Superstar bawls and superstar calls

Kobe’s run as the lord of the superstar call has come to an abrupt halt. Gone are the days where all Kobe had to do was look at a player then at a referee to get the call. Bryant’s 32 year old legs have seen many miles, his body drawn many ‘fouls’. The mamba is no longer a protected species, taken off the endangered list and replaced by a couple of party boys out east.

It is no secret that the media and much of Basketball Nation is in love with the combination of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. In fact this couple has been so close that they should be given their own celebrity couple name. But what would they be called? LeWyane? D-Bron? Their matrimonial amalgamation became official when the NBA named them Co-player of the Month for the Eastern Conference.

James and Wade are used to getting things their way. James gave himself the ‘King’ moniker whilst Wade decided to get rid of this ‘Flash’ nickname. Nicknames are usually given to a person and not decided by that person but having the ability to do so is reserved for the privileged. It only seems fair that they should get their calls too right? Oh and we haven’t even mentioned the frequent travelling yet.

Before jumping in and exploring LeWyane lets take some time to look at the benchmark, Kobe Bryant.

Till the end of December Kobe had taken 676 field goal attempts and drawn 92 fouls. When compared to the Heat duo Wade had drawn 129 fouls in his 628 attempts and LeBron drew 110 fouls in 669 shots. To make this comparable, Wade gets fouled 20.5% of the time, James 16.4% while Bryant draws fouls 13.6% of the time.

Yes LeBron and Dwyane probably take the ball to the hole more frequently than Kobe and though Kobe is the master at drawing contact his percentage fouled is down from his MVP season where it was 15.5%.

Now Wade and James are both ‘shot yellers’. That is yelling out with just about every contested layup or drive as if contact was actually made. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol are just as bad when it comes to ‘shot yelling’ and shoot from inside at a similar ratio as LeWyane. Lamar gets fouled 15.4% of the time and Pau 12.8%, significantly lower than LeWyane and over the course of a season will equate to over 140 more free throws than Bryant, Gasol and Odom combined despite taking around 900 shots less.

Moving along, this part I can only mention is based more on observation rather than pure statistics. With the NBA’s new policy to take a hard line on overt gestures by pinging anyone that acts out openly with a technical foul I was sure players like LeBron and Dwyane would get caught out. After all I don’t remember seeing Wade or LeBron ever agreeing with a foul called on them or sucking it up if they thought they were fouled.

I’ve always seen Kobe Bryant as a guy who stays relatively calm unless something ticks him off. Only then does he really become fiery… and I mean fiery, up there with the worst of the league. I was not at all surprised to see that by the end of the 2010 calendar year the Black Mamba had been pinged for 6 technicals (7 if you count the one rescinded) and had been ejected once.

Even with the level of complaining and face-screwing exhibited by Wade and James they have been whistled for a combined 6 technical fouls (4 for Wade, 2 for James excluding one rescinded). These figures may suggest some leniency in the way technical fouls are being called and I thought that the reason behind the rule change was to curb all acting out on the court.

LeWyane, you may be the new Lord of the Superstar call, you may be used to getting the benefit of the doubt out on the court but will it be enough for you to win your first championship ring in wedlock or will you always be one crab dribble away?

Haggard provides fantastic writing and illustrations on Australia’s National Basketball League at Can’t Buy A Basket.