Cleat Geeks

NBA Refs Swallow Whistles, Conspiracy Theorists Revolt

You can hear it in the stands during any sporting event. Comments like, “Ref, you’re missing a great game” or “if he had one eye, he’d be a cyclops” are common clichés heard when a ref misses a call.

During this year’s postseason play, blown calls are becoming more and more prevalent.

Photo by; Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by; Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The final seconds of Game 3 of the Warriors vs. Rockets saw James Harden hit a 10 foot step back in the lane. This step back turned out to be a game winner, the only win the Rockets would net in the series. The following day representatives from the league office publicly declared that the play that resulted in the game winning bucket should have been an offensive foul call. A fan or analyst with no rooting interest is able to see that Harden pushes off EVERY time he makes this move. Why it was deemed a foul a day late is precarious to say the least. When Harden drives to his left, as he prepares to step back, his last dribble prior to the crossover sees him push-off slightly with his right arm. He does this game after game, night after night. If it isn’t a foul all the time, it shouldn’t have been one in Game 3.FoulDeRozanMahinmi

The final seconds of Game 7 of the Toronto vs. Indiana series saw DeMar DeRozan shove Ian Mahimi under the bucket while jostling for an offensive board. The score was 87-84 Raptors, and if Mahimi had the opportunity to convert the stick back we would’ve been looking at a one point game in the final moments of Game 7. What is better than a one point game during the final seconds of Game 7? Viewers and fans were robbed of the opportunity to see one of the coolest things in sports because the ref swallowed his whistle. The no call resulted in the Pacers being forced to foul. Toronto ultimately wound up winning the game 89-84, ending the Pacers season. The early exit could have been a determining factor in Frank Vogel losing his job. Vogel is one of the bright young minds in the NBA today. I’m not insinuating this is the lone reason for his departure, but the fact he was let go is a travesty. The guy is a phenomenal coach, but, I’m veering off topic. Moving on.

Game 2 of the West Semis between the Thunder and Spurs was one of the worst officiated final sequences I’ve seen in more than 30 years of basketball. There was Manu stepping out, which is supposed to be an automatic technical foul. Dione Waiters gave Manu a shove while he was denying the ball, attempting to guard the inbound pass. Waiters also jumped as he finally was able to attempt passing the ball in. This is also a no-no. Most people with a working knowledge of the game know you cannot jump while throwing in the ball. Again, the refs swallowed their whistles. What ensued following the inbound pass was a calamity of epic proportions. There were violations abound, by both teams. The Thunder went on that night to escape with the victory, but it wasn’t without its share of controversy.

The following day the league office again released a statement claiming there were 5 missed calls in the final 13.5 seconds. Good grief. 5 blown calls! This is something I think no one who watches the NBA has seen.

The league office needs to stop with the press releases concerning missed calls. The teams can’t play the games over following the NBA’s admissions, so why do this? All we wind up with is egg on the face of the NBA, the refs, and Adam Silver.NBAref

Being an NBA official is an incredibly difficult job. The men and women who officiate NBA games have to make split second decisions and decipher what is and is not a foul between the athletic freaks that play in the league. I am in no way implying that these refs don’t do a great job a majority of the time. That said, a change has to be made.

Tracy McGrady and Amin El-Hassan of ESPN suggested that the NBA adopt the NFL style challenge flag we see used on Sunday. Their proposal was that a head coach would be allowed to challenge a call in the final 2 minutes. The challenge flag would only be utilized in the postseason. The NBA would have to figure out how this would work best. It would certainly require some fine tuning, but I feel like McGrady and El-Hassan are on to something.

During the first 3 weeks of  these playoffs we have seen plays where a whistle could have and should have been blown. These whistles could have adversely affected games. Until something is done by the league apart from the day after admission of guilt, we can all rest assured we haven’t seen the last blown call.

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