By Ben Golliver
Hey, look, it happens all the time. People see LeBron James, global icon and NBA superstar, and they start shrieking uncontrollably. That's just how fame works. Usually, though, the uncontrollable shrieking isn't coming from an NBA referee's whistle for no apparent reason.
During a Tuesday night exhibition game between James' Miami Heat and the Charlotte Bobcats at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NBA official Marat Kogut inexplicably called a technical foul on James for, as far as we can tell, absolutely nothing.
Check out the video above, via Royce Young at CBSSports.com's Eye On Basketball, and judge for yourself. James attacks the Bobcats defense from near halfcourt with less than 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter and the Heat leading 47-42. Picking up steam quickly as he drives, James makes contact with Charlotte guard Gerald Henderson, who slides over into the paint in an attempt to take the charge. James' upper body and head then fly back a bit after the contact, which sends Henderson to the ground. Then, out of nowhere (the weakside) Kogut comes flying in whistling and signaling for a technical foul.
James, as you might expect, reacts with sheer confusion before appealing to the baseline official, David Jones, in an effort to overrule the call. Replays show real contact between James and Henderson and no hint of flopping, unnecessary intimidation or unsportsmanlike play. Not only that, James wasn't even called for a charge on the sequence. Instead, he wound up earning a trip to the free throw line after Bobcats big man Bismack Biyombo (according to the game's play-by-play) was called for a foul for slapping James' arms before he ran into Henderson.
Kudos to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who stood up for his star player and argued the call until he received a technical of his own, simply to prove a point.
Last season, the NBA started posting online explanations and corrections of controversial and confusing call by its officials. Let's hope this mystery technical gets that treatment.
The Heat went on to defeat the Bobcats 98-92.
Update: The Sun-Sentinel reported Wednesday that the technical was rescinded by the NBA league office. Video via YouTube user NBAshowtimeHD