In professional sports, referees play an important role. It is their job to ensure the integrity of the game in deciding a winner. A key component of that is making the right calls. However, given that referees are also human and make mistakes, there are times they can make the wrong ones. They also tend to make calls that fans and players might disagree with. Nevertheless, it’s quite rare for a referee to reverse the call. But despite this, some players don’t hesitate to release their frustrations and grievances to the game officials. For this piece, let’s take a look at the 10 NBA players that complain to the NBA referees the most.
10. Devin Booker
Devin Booker is one of the best scorers with a sweet shooting stroke. But as talented as he is, Booker also complains a lot. Since the 2021 NBA Finals, Booker has been in the ear of the referees for not getting the calls. A game later, Booker missed a clutch shot while trying to draw a foul on the Bucks’ PJ Tucker which wasn’t called. As we all know, the Suns lost the NBA Finals. Nowadays, Booker still complains to the referees even if it’s about the opposing team’s mascot.
9. James Harden
The Beard pretty much took the NBA by storm. However, he also raised eyebrows with his play that tends to hover around the gray area of basketball rules such as traveling and foul-baiting. To address Harden’s tendency to initiate contact while shooting, the league imposed a new rule in 2021 that would ban referees from calling fouls if an offensive player initiates contact with a non-basketball move. With Harden’s game diminished, the MVP spoke out his grievances.
"I just want a fair chance, man. Just call the game the way it’s supposed to be called and we’ll live with the results.”
James Harden voiced his opinion about the officiating after Game 1. pic.twitter.com/9GmtB2EjPp
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 28, 2019
Fortunately, NBA referees started to adjust later on and Harden is posting all-star numbers again.
8. Kevin Durant
When it comes to the best scorer in today’s game, Kevin Durant is definitely up there. However, that hasn’t stopped him from losing his cool when he disagreed with the calls. In 2018, Durant was fined $15,000 for criticizing the referees in a game against the Knicks. He also finished in the top portion of technical fouls during the 2017-2018 season.
Moreover, during the 2021-2022 season, Durant has been picking up technical fouls and felt that officials have been treating him differently. Because of this, a suspension could be on the horizon for KD which could be trouble for the Nets if their superstar doesn’t stop complaining.
7. Kyle Lowry
Since his days with the Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry is no stranger to complaining to officials. Although he’s a critical piece to the Heat’s rotation, the talented guard only disrupts the team’s plans of returning to the NBA Finals by getting in the ire of referees. In fact, Lowry was ejected for passing a ball to the referee which only shows that game officials have had enough.
Kyle Lowry was ejected from Heat-Blazers game for… tossing the ball at the official.
Thoughts on this call? 🤔pic.twitter.com/DIjfsMVaFQ
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 6, 2022
6. Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards is quite expressive off the NBA court. While his athleticism is off the charts, Edwards also has a lot of maturing to do. Aside from controversies and his diet, Edwards also has a tendency to complain to NBA referees often. In fact, as a rookie, Edwards already demanded game officials to allow him more trips to the free throw line. If Edwards can stop complaining and let his talent do the talking, the Wolves will have a much brighter future ahead.
5. Dillon Brooks
Although Dillon Brooks is a solid wing defender, he doesn’t hide his frustrations. Brooks has accumulated a lot of technical fouls in the 2022-2023 season to become one of the league leaders. On Christmas Day, Brooks gave the referees of the Warriors-Grizzlies game some choice of words for their officiating, calling it a “Circus”. With a frustrating Christmas, it doesn’t look like Brooks will stop letting the referees hear it anytime soon.
4. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is a walking triple double. Even if he’s coming off the bench, that still applies. However, since his days with the Thunder, Russ has always thought that refs treated him unfairly. Westbrook has previously accepted that the refs will never change their call, but that hasn’t changed his behavior.
3. Draymond Green
As the leader of the Golden State Warriors, Draymond Green hasn’t been a stranger to voicing his opinions. It doesn’t matter whether it’s directed at his teammates, opponents or coaches. Green doesn’t hold back on verbal attacks toward NBA referees either. In fact, Green is a collector of technical fouls and ejections particularly due to making confrontations for calls that he didn’t like.
2. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic has taken the NBA by storm with his polished all-around game. Whether it’s in the Olympics or the NBA, Doncic is in a class of his own. However, the same can almost be said for his non-stop complaining. Despite a stellar young NBA career for Luka, his consistent complaining is a blemish to his near-perfect game. Luka consistently fails to get back on defense, wasting time chirping at the refs. Fortunately, Mavs coach Jason Kidd has brought up the issue to the young star.
If there’s another player that complains more, that would be LeBron James. Like Doncic, James tends to complain too much about non-calls. This negatively affects his team with opposing teams exploiting the lack of defense in transition.
As LeBron James is busy talking to the referee, Maxi Kleber gets behind the defense to catch the no-look lob from Luka Doncic.
Complaining to refs instead of getting back on defense was something Jason Kidd called out Doncic for doing back in early December. pic.twitter.com/RCBUPXYAp8
— Grant Afseth (@GrantAfseth) March 2, 2022
James has pretty much accomplished almost everything in basketball. However, if he wants to continue to grow his basketball legacy, keeping the complaints down and accepting referees’ calls should be a step forward in helping to make the Lakers relevant again.