Bulls at Hawks, AKA Would J.J. Get More Calls From Refs If He Demanded Them?

Should J.J. show officials this face more often?

Should J.J. show officials this face more often?

Something unusual happened near the end of the game the other night at Oklahoma City. J.J. took some contact on a turnover but didn’t get a call and on the next play Kevin Durant got a call when J.J. went for a steal. The sequence wasn’t unusual–Durant gets to the line a lot and J.J. doesn’t. The rare part of it was Johnson’s reaction: he punched his fist in the air and complained to officials.

I’ve only been around a month, but I’m told that might be the most anger Johnson has expressed about a call all season. He was visibly miffed about a call the next night against the Clippers, too. J.J. took eight free throws against the Thunder and 10 against the Clippers, the most attempts he’s had in a two-game span this season. Some Hawks folks think that’s no coincidence.

They wish J.J. would express his displeasure to officials more. They think he doesn’t get the calls other star players get because he doesn’t demand respect from officials. They wouldn’t even mind if J.J. was hit with a technical from time to time.

But J.J. says it’s just not his style. Plus, he thinks it’s useless.

“I don’t feel like I get the calls (other good players get),” he said. “But I feel like there is no no need to complain because I don’t think it does any good. It don’t get you better calls. So I gave up. And if they make a bad call, they can’t take it back, so what’s the difference?”

I’ve got to say that’s probably the first time I’ve heard that approach to calls from anyone associated with the league. Back in 2007, I did a story about so-called “star” or “respect” calls because everyone was complaining about Dwyane Wade getting too many of them. The story can be summed up as:

1. Yes, there is such a thing as star calls though it doesn’t happen as much as some perceive.

2. You have to earn them with an aggressive style of play.

3. Everyone just kind of accepts them because they are a part of the NBA’s culture.

Some select quotes from that story:

“It’s 100 percent real,” Richard Jefferson said. “It’s an unspoken thing.”

“As far as close calls, if you have more star power, you probably get that call,” Jason Richardson said.

“That hasn’t changed,” said Byron Scott. “That is something that has been around way, way before I came in this league. I don’t think anybody in this league looks at it and says that’s wrong. That’s just how it has been.”

“Star players have the ball much of the time, particularly at critical times,” said NBA officials honcho Ronnie Nunn. “They are star players because they are adept at what they do. They certainly don’t need the help of any officials.They summon the whistle of an official because they are capable of separating themselves from other players. It’s about abilities and unique strengths on getting fouls called.”

That brings us back to J.J., whose free-throw attempts per game have decreased from 4.6 last season to 3.6 this season. His shot attempts per game have actually gone up by 0.5. His minutes are down 5 percent from last season but his free-throw attempts are down 22 percent. What’s up with that?

It doesn’t seem J.J. has changed his style of play. According to game-tracking statistics at 82games.com, 20 percent of Johnson’s shot are what it considers to be “inside” and 80 percent are jumpers. He finished last season at the exact same ratio.

Compare that to the guards who shoot at least one more free throw per game than Johnson (listed in descending order of free-throw attempts per game):

Dwyane Wade (34 percent shot attempts inside)
Kevin Martin (21 percent)
Chauncey Billups (23 percent)
Kobe Bryant (23 percent)
Brandon Roy (24 percent)
Tyreke Evans (53 percent)
Gilbert Arenas (21 percent)
Devin Harris (35 percent)
Rodney Stuckey (39 percent)
Deron Williams (26 percent)
Russell Westbrook (38 percent)
Eric Gordon (37 percent)
Tony Parker (40 percent)
Rip Hamilton (11 percent)
Chris Paul (20 percent)
Andre Miller (35 percent)
Ben Gordon (15 percent)
Allen Iverson (21 percent)
Baron Davis (35 percent)

You can see that by 82games.com’s count, 16 of these 19 players attempt more inside shots than Johnson. But only Wade, Evans, Harris, Stuckey, Westbrook, Gordon, Parker, Miller, and Davis do so at a dramatically higher rate that might explain how they take so many more free throws than J.J. And only Wade and Bryant take more shots per game overall than J.J.’s 18.5.

So does all that mean J.J. doesn’t get the calls he deserves and, if so, would he get more love if he harped at officials more? Does he just need to go to the rim more often? Does he need to get better at drawing and/or selling contact? Is it all of these things, none of them or something else?


– Over at Peachtree Hoops, hawksdawg boldly steps into a minefield by suggesting that racism may play a part in the Hawks not catching on the way they should in the city. I’m too new to have my own take on that (though I can say from experience this isn’t the only NBA city where that conversation takes place) but Ps to hawksdawg for having the kind of set it takes to put it out there.

– A television crew from Rustavi 2 in Georgia (the country) is in town to do a lifestyle story on Zaza. He says it’s the most popular channel there. The piece is for a show called “P.S.”, which airs every Saturday night.

From the Web site: “Though the program has its staunch audience, the last public opinion poll showed that it is necessary to make it more attractive for the young Georgian viewers.” So Zaza must be big with the kids back home, too.
jjfad– Super commenter northcyde has called on me to come up with a nickname for the “lethal combination” of Joe and Jamal. So far I can’t get past anything that involves the use of the initials “J.J.” and that keeps bringing me back to some play on J.J. Fad or J.J. Evans. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got right now.

– Talk amongst yourselves, Hawks fans.


41 comments Add your comment


February 5th, 2010
4:55 pm


February 5th, 2010
4:55 pm

I think it boils down to this. The league dubbed these guys superstars and gave them commercials before they proved themselves One way to make a guy a “perceived” star is to up his scorring average, best way to do that is put them on the line for at least 10 free points per night. It’s sickening and turns off real fans.

Astro Joe

February 5th, 2010
4:58 pm

Joe & Jamal = HEAT CHECK!


February 5th, 2010
4:58 pm


I don’t know where a debate featuring the “R” word may go on this blog, but truthfully speaking…I would be lying if I said that, that issue has never crossed my mind regarding the Hawks attendance issues. Hell the same could even be said about the Braves attendance issues. This is a funny city when it comes to that issue.


February 5th, 2010
5:00 pm

absolutely jlewis…


February 5th, 2010
5:00 pm

Great piece- full of facts and fiqures.I hereby dub thee: MC Bright


February 5th, 2010
5:02 pm

From the last blog. O’Brien I would do that trade but like Sautee said I doubt the Nets would go for it unless they just desperately want to dump both guys…. Astro I understood your point about the sf’s I was just saying I think Hassell would have more to offer than George. And Adonal Foyle is still with Orlando.

Tony from Stone Mountain

February 5th, 2010
5:04 pm

jlewis, that’s a very good observation!

Astro Joe

February 5th, 2010
5:08 pm

cp, thanks. And I agree.


February 5th, 2010
5:09 pm

Yeah Josh Smith don’t mind barking at the officials JJ should do it at least sometimes. Or at least chat with them and work them throughout the game. Ref when I do my floater he is pushing me look out for that or he hits me when I fade back. Refs dont see everything. I dont know what racism peachtree hoops are talking about. Please expound.

Rod from College Park

February 5th, 2010
5:09 pm

Repost from previos blog concerning this blogs topic:

As much as I hate to say it, because I really do repect the way Joe plays the game (no whining, and arguing about calls), and old statement comes to mind. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” All of the great players get calls because they scream at the refs. It is an NBA (Stern) thing, but it also is a form a psychology. If you convince the refs that everytime you miss a shot, someone had to foul you, they eventually start believing it. Another phrase that applies is “Quiet mouths don’t get fed.” In order to get more calls, Joe will have to change his approach or his demeaner. Name me one guy in the league, who is a superstar who does not bark at the refs constantly. I can think of one or two, and that’s Tim Duncan and Durant, and they both still do it frequently.


February 5th, 2010
5:24 pm

How about “Joe & Jam”, cuz you cant have one without the other lol.


February 5th, 2010
5:25 pm

With Noah out, Horford should have a big night. He always plays well against the Bulls. But perhaps some of that was getting up for playing against Joakim.

Without Noah’s shot blocking, we should keep going inside over and over.


February 5th, 2010
5:29 pm

How about “jelly and jam”? Jelly for Joe’s sweet jumper and Jam because “that must be jam ’cause jelly don’t shake like that” ;-)


February 5th, 2010
5:41 pm

Sautee, cp

How about Boone and CDR for Mo Evans and our 1st (which will probably be in the early 20s). Is that too much for the Hawks to give up?


I disagree with JJ. Refs give makeup calls all the time, so although they can’t take a bad call back, the next time down the court, they can give you a call that you might not have gotten otherwise.

And in the playoffs, with the game on the line, I would prefer for JJ to get the foul call and go to the FT line, as opposed to attempting a tough fadeaway shot at the buzzer.

How about “Ice-man and Maverick” for nicknames?


February 5th, 2010
5:48 pm

i think the home team never gets the calls. its just how we all feel. the opponent always seems to get the big breaks, or at least we remember it that way.

having said that, i cant think of another sport where the officiating is so contested and possibly bad.

personally i think the hawks dont get the calls as much, JJ got fouled several times last game, and didnt get calls, but ive seen some BS calls go our way too…..i just dont see why its so hard to call an even and consistent game.

as for racism – i dont see how that could be an issue for the hawks. It may be a culture issue, or a accessability/cost issue. Most average folks cant spend $100 for two on a regular basis to go to a game, black or white. My take is that folks who are into a team generally play that sport. Its a fact that a basketball court takes up a lot less space than a baseball field, thus there are more basketball courts in cities. More black folks live in cities generally, thus more exposure to basketball, thus more interest.

its not a race thing its an exposure thing.

baseball is mad that black baseball players have declined to under 10%. well is that a real surprise? its all about access….desides the black population of america is only 12-13%. not as much as a lot of folks think. so its only off a few percent in baseball…..its off A LOT more in basketball, but the other way around.. Again not surprising, but also not racism. Access.

ive been to a few hawks games – the percentage of attendees that are black is higher than the 12-13% for the US census. again not surprising.

Also – white suburbanites dont have as much access to play basketball (once out of school), plus going to a game is a long drive.

not that is matters but im white for those curious.


February 5th, 2010
5:51 pm


I’d have to give that some serious thought. I haven’t seen much of Boone this year. And obviously if you acquired Boone, you’d need to move Zaza. (to Portland?)

Ready to do THAT?


February 5th, 2010
5:58 pm

-4pt plays are called “crawfords”
-joe and jamal can be called J Crew espeically if josh and jeff teague are on the floor
-as far as joe getting calls.. he doesnt finish hard… or agressively.. he shoots a lot of floaters like a smaller guard ie. tony parker, nash, rondo. if he went to the basket hard he would get more calls. agressive players get more calls. it makes the ref make a call. if you go in soft.. ie floaters… they will not call that. or if you shoot a lot of fade away shots.. you will not get calls

Anthony George III

February 5th, 2010
6:05 pm

LaBron get so many calls it really takes the fun out of the game and I hate watching him play. The game against the Hawks, Josh Smith gets mugged in the lane, no call, the very next play Labron double-teamed in the lane, but throws his body into Josh to go to the lane. Not sure of a nickname, but I am very concerned this team will not go far with Marvin. I am trying to like the kid, but we could us a Michael Redd or another guy at small forward who can strech the defense. Have you heard ANYTHING about any trades involving the Hawks?

Hawk n the Ham

February 5th, 2010
6:15 pm

Playing off AstroJoe’s nickname,

‘Double H.C.’

Habitual – Heat – Check :)


February 5th, 2010
6:17 pm

Habitual – Heat – Check…funny


February 5th, 2010
6:19 pm


Maybe the Nets will take RandMo, Mo Evans, and a second round pick for Boone and CDR. That way we wouldnt have to move anybody.

But I am open to trading ZaZa, because maybe we could sign Camby this offseason with our mid-level exception. Or maybe we can trade ZaZa, Mo and pick for Camby, if the Clippers are willing.

Section 303

February 5th, 2010
6:24 pm

Michael, That is funny you did a piece on Wade getting calls. You can start with the 24 FT’s he took against the Hawks in December of ‘07, the game that later had to be replayed. Still kills me the league had the nerve to demand a replay of that game after the calls that were given to Wade.

JJ does get screwed by refs on a nightly basis. I don’t think he should start yelling at refs, though. It just is not his style. As Popeye would say, “I yam, what I yam.”


February 5th, 2010
6:26 pm

:lol: at habitual heat check

JJ needs an infusion of 20% of Josh’s indignation at not getting calls. Then he would get more calls. It’s a shame, but the refs are human. You have to play that human element. Then again, if he starts complaining on the regular I can no longer call him the Silent Assassin. It should be on his socks. Just the type of endorsement that fits a quiet guy like Joe.

@mountainman36 baseball umps seem to dish out a large pile of frustration on a nightly basis. Especially around the definition of the strike zone.

@ILL-logical I thinlk of our new beat writer as MC Blogs-a-lot ’cause baby got blogs
big blogs, small blogs, short blogs, long blogs ;-)

Gotta run. I want to be in the place for tip.



February 5th, 2010
7:06 pm

JJ & Jamal= The Closer & The Finisher!!!!!!!

Hawk n the Ham

February 5th, 2010
7:20 pm

Joe and Jamal can be called the “I.T. Dept.”

I.T. = Iso-Twins

Big Ray

February 5th, 2010
7:25 pm

2nd that, Lacsho !

Get Some Facts, Then Come Back And See Me...

February 5th, 2010
7:49 pm

Jazzy Joe and the Fresh Prince


February 5th, 2010
7:49 pm

Iso twins lol made me spill my heineken ….

also liked The Closer & The Finisher !!


February 5th, 2010
8:12 pm

iso twins.. too damn funny .. still laughing … iso twins..hahaha


February 5th, 2010
8:27 pm

Thanks Mike, I have been preaching this over the last few games on these blogs. The last few Paul Pierce, D12, Durant, they all got Star treatment.


February 5th, 2010
8:34 pm

What a dunk by Rose. Wow.

Hawks defense looking good. I would like to see Woody run some plays for Marvin though.

Nets playing the Celtics close in Boston. I would love to see the Celtics lose to the Nets at home…

And then the Celtics play the Magic on Sunday, which is a win win for the Hawks.


February 5th, 2010
9:07 pm

The bulls are shooting badly from the outside but are exploiting the switching defence well.


February 5th, 2010
9:08 pm

Excellent defense by teague


February 5th, 2010
9:40 pm

It doesn’t take a “set” to throw out the racism card… it takes a lack of creative writing ability and a need for attention.


Najeh Davenpoop

February 5th, 2010
9:50 pm

Here’s what I posted to respond to hawksdawgs’ blog post on SB Nation (I didn’t realize it was linked here or else I would have just posted it here):

First of all, I think money matters a lot more than racism. I’ve seen many people complain that they have to spend upwards of $100 at Hawks games, which is plainly not true, but the perception is there. But when it comes to racism (as it too often does in Atlanta), it involves the city of Atlanta more than the Hawks. Unfortunately, when you mention Atlanta to people in the suburbs, the reaction of too many people involves the words “unsafe”, “crime”, “black”, and/or “thug” in some combination. Sure, with people who think this way, the fact that the NBA is majority black doesn’t help, and there are probably some of these people who are willing to put aside these feelings to come see Brian McCann and Matt Ryan. I just think there are probably a lot more people who would probably give the Hawks a shot if they didn’t have to come to downtown Atlanta to watch them.

And unfortunately, since Atlanta is unique in that the vast majority of its metro area residents live outside the city proper, Atlanta’s sports teams have no choice but to rely on their support in order to succeed, which makes them too dependent on suburbanites’ perception of things like MARTA and Atlanta crime. Convincing them of the city’s merits is a task no sports team will be able to accomplish.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 5th, 2010
9:51 pm

As for this game, it’s pathetic that the Hawks are struggling so badly to put this team away when they are missing their best post player and rebounder. Derrick Rose has been the best player on the floor.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 5th, 2010
9:55 pm

About Joe: yes, he does need to whine to the refs more, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way is to just cuss them out whenever something goes against you, like Rasheed Wallace and occasionally Josh Smith do. The right way is to massage their egos and suck up to them when things are going well, so that when you don’t get a call you want you can whine about it and it looks legitimate. This is what LeBron James does masterfully.

Najeh Davenpoop

February 5th, 2010
9:59 pm

By the way, the Hawks are 12-11 over their last 23 games. That is one third of the season of complete mediocrity. Yes, they had a tough schedule in January, so some losses were expected, but they have also lost a LOT of winnable games, and you can add this one to the list if they continue playing with no energy or desire to win.


February 6th, 2010
2:40 pm

ND, you’re wrong. The league and it’s refs need to call All games right. Not some. No one should have to stroke some ones ego to get a call that should have gone the right way if the officials were really doing their jobs. It’s their job! Lebron is a whiner, sure he’s a great player but he fouls, walks, and cries like a 2 year old. Well I guess that doesn’t make him great it makes him an average player with an infant mentality, in a linebackers body. Joe is a grown man. Grown men play basketball. Babies cry.

Coach D

February 6th, 2010
7:07 pm

That Oklahoma-Durant game was B.arbara S.trisand. Even in an Sports Illustrated article they mentioned Jason Terry complaining about Durant getting all of the calls. Terry something along the line of, “Oh, I’m sorry the new Jordan is on the floor,” after a weak “foul”. They want to protect him from getting hurt, rightfully so, he’s a hell of a player, but…….