Jeremy Lin Fan Creates Video Questioning Why Hornets Guard Doesn’t Draw More Flagrant Fouls (Video)
Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin has not been the recipient of one single flagrant foul call over the past three seasons. He didn’t get one when Kobe Bryant almost ripped his head off. He didn’t get one when Wesley Johnson whacked him in the face and left him with a bloody nose. He didn’t get one when Carmelo Anthony gave him an uppercut to the chin.
After watching so many violent fouls going unpunished, Hsiu-Chen Kuei, a 48-year-old stay-at-home mom and self-described Jeremy Lin fan from San Jose, decided to take it upon herself to bring it to the attention of the NBA. So she made a video comparing the non-flagrant fouls on Jeremy Lin to the flagrant fouls committed against other players. Then she teamed up with a couple of other Jeremy Lin fans to create a formal letter people can send to the NBA asking them to look into the situation.
In just a few days, the video, which runs six and a half minutes, has gotten over 1.7 million views. Take a look:
Hsiu-Chen Kuei does not say race is the reason Jeremy Lin doesn’t get flagrant fouls called in his favor. But the question is obviously implied. And it’s hard to blame her.
The NBA issued an official response to Kuei’s video on Friday. Take a look:
After reviewing our extensive officiating database, we have found no data that suggests Jeremy Lin is disadvantaged by our officiating staff. NBA referees use a set of criteria provided by the league office in determining whether a foul should be called flagrant. Following the game, contact that is deemed flagrant by referees and other hard contact (whether called or not) is reviewed by NBA Basketball Operations. As part of that review, Basketball Operations uses that same set of criteria, multiple video angles and enhancements, and its comparable database to calibrate its judgment. When deemed appropriate, a foul can be upgraded or downgraded and applicable penalties can be assessed. While some of the plays in the video involved hard contact, none was subsequently deemed a Flagrant Foul given the full circumstances, angles and comparables from past games.
With respect to the data, over the last three seasons, Mr. Lin ranked 21st among all players in number of drives to the basket with 1,537. While he has not drawn a flagrant foul in that time, neither have other guards known for their driving ability like Reggie Jackson (2,031 drives), Tony Parker (1,974), Tyreke Evans (1,969), Ty Lawson (1,891), Kyrie Irving (1,649) or Victor Oladipo (1,544). Conversely, Mr. Lin has drawn more common fouls on those drives than any of those previously listed players and has drawn fouls at the seventh-highest rate among the 23 players with more than 1,500 drives.
Furthermore, given the infrequency of flagrant fouls (roughly 1 per every 500 foul calls), it is not statistically significant that none of Mr. Lin’s 814 fouls drawn were deemed flagrant.
The league makes two arguments here. First, they say that the statistics do not suggest Jeremy Lin receives disproportionately fewer flagrants than anyone else. Second, they say that none of the plays shown in Kuei’s video should have been ruled flagrant.
The first argument is statistically correct. The stats suggest Lin should expect to receive 1.6 flagrants per 814 fouls. The fact that he’s received zero can be chalked up as a fluke.
The second argument, however, is ri-goddamn-diculous. The NBA defines a flagrant 1 as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” How can anyone see what Kobe Brynt did to Lin back in December as necessary?
The NBA should have admitted that their refs missed some calls and used the stats to prove it’s just a fluke. By trying to convince people that they aren’t seeing what they’re seeing, the league just looks suspicious.