During the first half of Thursday’s Western Conference Finals game, referees called a flagrant-1 foul on Lakers’ guard D’Angelo Russell.
Russell was attempting to block Nuggets guard Jamal Murray’s layup as he drove to the basket in transition in the first quarter of Game 2 of the Conference Finals.
Russell’s left arm appeared to make contact with Murray’s face, but it seemed like the Lakers’ guard was trying to hit the basketball.
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After the referees huddled to discuss the play, they ruled that Russell had committed an offense that was worthy of a flagrant 1 foul call.
The call resulted in two free throw attempts for the Nuggets, both of which were good.
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Los Angeles led Denver by three points at time of the foul call, which happened with just under three minutes remaining in the game’s opening quarter.
LeBron James, who was on the bench at the time, was left in disbelief.
James was seen mouthing the words “What did he do?”
Much of the arguments about the play revolved around whether Russell wound up his arm before he made contact with Murray.
ESPN rules analyst Steve Javie agreed with the officials call, while broadcasters Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy voiced their oppositions about the decision.
Nevertheless, the flagrant foul call sparked a fury of reactions on social media, with some backing the referee’s decision and other questioning whether the correct call was made.
The often outspoken Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green appeared to categorize the call as “soft.”
ESPN host Frank Isola pointed out the apparent contact to Russell’s face.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN host Robert Griffin III believed Russell simply committed a “good foul.”
One Twitter user said Russell was “contesting” Murray’s shot attempt.
Another Twitter user sided with the referees.
Regardless of what side of the debate anyone stands on, the questionable call certainly reignited conversations about the differences between a common foul, a flagrant 1 and a flagrant 2 foul.
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