Call it a foul play or the height of discrimination? Jeremy Lin has drawn 813 fouls since 2013-14 with none being a flagrant foul. That’s the most fouls drawn by a guard without a flagrant foul call, according to NBA StatsCube, and third most among all NBA players, behind only Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol.
A YouTube video titled ‘Jeremy Lin: Too Flagrant Not to Call’ depicts a series of hard fouls on the Charlotte Hornets guard and compares them to other players who drew flagrant foul calls. The video is growing strong at over one million views since it was posted earlier this month. The video was the project of Hsiu-Chen Kuei, who along with Jenny Wei and Koon-Ping Chan wrote a form letter for fans to send to the NBA to try to draw attention to the situation. It has made fans wonder why Jeremy Lin hasn’t been the recipient of a called flagrant foul over the past three seasons? “I’m just happy that people are noticing this,” Kuei told The New York Times on Tuesday. “It’s not about views. I didn’t get money or anything. I didn’t want attention. I just want Lin to get fair calls.”
Lin reply to the video: I’d love to get more calls. It is part of it. You have to play through it. I’m just thankful the fans are trying to do something about it and trying to push the league to at least review some this stuff.
NBA’s cold response: It responded to the online petitioning with a statement confirming the referees’ decisions that none of the fouls on Lin in question were flagrant.
Kuei’s disappointed: Kuei told the Times she was disappointed by the league’s reaction but has been encouraged by the discussion the video has generated. “Through this, I just want to make sure the rules apply to every player and players get protected by the rules.”
Fans fret: Race is never explicitly mentioned in the video, and Lin didn’t bring it up in his comments, but the implication is pretty clear: Lin doesn’t get treated fairly by referees because he is Asian.
Deadspin opinion: According to NBA.com, Lin drives to the basket 6.7 times per game and attempts 1.6 free-throws per game on those plays. That puts him right in the middle of the pack among players who drive more than five times per game, which suggests that he gets the same foul calls everyone else is getting. But the video’s beef is less with foul calls in general and more with the fact that Lin isn’t being protected from excessively hard fouls. This is trickier to sort out, as there is no database that tracks how many flagrant fouls a player has drawn in his career, but there are enough examples in that video to at least raise an eyebrow. It’s also telling that Lin, who sometimes still gets hassled by security guards who don’t think he’s a player, addressed the issue publicly. Fan complaints are one thing, but if a player truly believes he is being treated unfairly by referees because of his race, it’s probably something the NBA should look into.