LeBron James, Frank Vogel grumble about challenge ruling late in loss to Clippers: 'I think it's total BS'

LeBron James, Frank Vogel were in disbelief as the Clippers won the challenge, but in a fairly unconventional way.

Frank Vogel and LeBron James in a file photo, Image credit: Twitter/LakersNation
By Amruth Kalidas | Feb 27, 2022 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The Los Angeles Lakers lost a nail-biter to their rival Clippers on Friday, but it came down to one of the more controversial calls of the season. Down 103-102 in the final minute, Russell Westbrook missed a driving layup that could have given the Lakers the lead. LeBron James went up for the rebound, got it, and tried to pass it back out to a teammate.

Read more: Memphis Grizzlies beat Chicago Bulls, Ja Morant with 46 points

LeBron James, Frank Vogel disagree with refs call

Clippers defender Robert Covington got in the way. He deflected the pass and ultimately secured the ball, but when he tried to pass it back out, he was deemed out of bounds by the officials. Clippers coach Ty Lue disagreed. He challenged the call. 

The Clippers won the challenge, but in a fairly unconventional way. Covington did, in fact, step out of bounds. However, the officials ruled that James stepped out of bounds first when he went up for his rebound. The Clippers ultimately won a challenge on a call that wasn’t even made. Needless to say, the Lakers weren’t happy about it. 

“I disagree strongly with the ruling,” coach Frank Vogel said. “I think it’s total BS. They called the play dead when Covington steps out of bounds. They try to tell me that, because it was close to that play, that LeBron was out of bounds, then it’s going to be Clippers ball. … It’s wrong. … It should have been our ball in that situation. Very disappointing.”

Read more: LeBron James and Lakers front office ‘don’t have an issue,’ agent Rich Paul says after meeting with ownership

James himself didn’t even know such calls were reviewable.  “That rule has never been explained to me, and I know every rule in this game,” James said. “I never knew that you could challenge a play that wasn’t called on the floor, and that’s essentially what happened.”

This is hardly the first officiating controversy the Lakers have endured this season. In a November game against the Houston Rockets, two Lakers points scored on Kent Bazemore free throws were taken off of the board after the officials found that Los Angeles was not actually in the bonus when the foul was committed. The Lakers and Clippers have seen recent games determined by officiating as well. On Christmas, 2019, a controversial late-game replay found that James had touched the ball last before going out of bounds after he was stripped by Patrick Beverley.