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Monday, June 1, 2009

Ramble On ... A Mixed Bag of Info on NBA officiating

A "TL" Open Letter to Every Media type, Radio Geek, Fan, Coach, GM, Team Owner:

The message of the day is to "Get over it."

Stop bitching about the officiating!

Get your act together.  Cover the game, not the game outside the lines where people in high places in pro basketball are TRYING to influence the outcome of the game by playing "mind games" against the public, the crowd, the players, the other coaches and, yes, the on court referees or officials.

Wake up, smell the coffee.  Open your eyes and your mind!  They are TRYING to get an edge, the same way you try to get:

Try to get a few extra few drops of gasoline from the gas pump.
Try to do 70 mph in a 65 mph zone.
Try to cut the corner in a foot race.
Try to get your kids to go to bed on time or wake up earlier than usual.
Try to get a stock tip.
Try to miss a traffic jam.
I could go on and on...

My message is this:  Mark Cuban is exhibit 1-A.  He literally and single-handily LOST an NBA championship by undermining the Dallas Mavericks team while they were in the 2006 NBA Finals.  Amazingly, he still hasn't learned how to deal with the NBA, the refs, ora tough basketball situation and he continues to choose to be a "peacock" and remain in close proximity to the court while he interacts with his players, coaches and opponents (see Kenyon Martin and his Mom).

He should get himself a good sky box.  Grab tickets 10 rows up, or five rows up, with the four rows before him reserved for a media section or a new and special area for injured soldiers.

I say:

Let the players ... PLAY.  Let the coaches COACH.  Only one person in the ENTIRE organization should have a conversation or speak a single word to an NBA official or NBA league Basketball Operations/front office  member and that should be the COACH or the Team GM, at the coaches request.


NEWS ITEM:  Coaches, Fans, Media Keep "Bitchin'" About the REFS:

AP WROTE: Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson is still waiting for the NBA's new era of officiating "transparency" to improve the game.

Speaking before Friday night's Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against Denver -- a series beset by complaints about refereeing that included $50,000 in fines against the Lakers and their coach -- Jackson conceded how difficult it is to call an NBA game.

"This is the dawn of a new age, we were told in the last two years," he said. "Transparency, a wonderful word, was going to be used, and we're looking for that to help us. In that regard, we want to use all these aspects, whether it's called credibility or accountability, and use it to improve everything that can happen to this game, because it's a great game."

Jackson was speaking about some of the changes the NBA has made in the wake of the scandal involving Tim Donaghy, the former NBA ref who is serving a 15-month sentence after confessing to betting on games and passing game information to gamblers.

After Game 4 of the Lakers-Nuggets series, Jackson drew the fines for criticizing the refs for the 14-shot discrepancy in Denver's favor from the free throw line. He also complained about Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones being "unsportsmanlike" for tripping Kobe Bryant. Jones, not called for a foul on the play, was assessed a flagrant-1 foul the next day.

After Game 5, some of the Nuggets were confused about inconsistent whistles that resulted in eight more fouls on them than the Lakers.

Denver coach George Karl voiced mild complaints after Games 3 and 5 but nothing that has gotten him fined. He stayed away from critiquing the refs before Game 6.

Veteran official Joe Crawford was assigned to Game 6, along with Mike Callahan and Mark Wunderlich.

Also See:

Orlando's Mike Bianchi who blogged:

 Magic fans believe the officials are against them. Cavs fans think the officials are against them. Every set of fans I've ever known think the officials are against them.

  I don't buy it, not in professional sports. The only time I buy officiating bias is in college football, when officials who are employed and being paid by one league (usually a BCS mega-conference) officiate a non-conference home game (usually against a team from a non-BCS league). Too many times, I've seen the non-BCS team get shafted by blatant home-cooking (see phantom offensive pass interference call against UCF in a game against Georgia a few years ago).

  I don't believe that happens in professional sports. Not for a minute.

  I don't believe NBA officials are against the Magic, but I do believe this: They are for LeBron James. They are smitten by LeBron James. They are so enamored by LeBron James, they won't call anything against him for fear  they might disappoint him. As I wrote in a column after Game 3, I think LeBron is fawned over by everybody in the NBA, including the officials.

  As renowned NBA scribe Sam Smith wrote near the end of the regular season, LeBron has been called for fewer fouls this season than almost anybody in the history of the league. Which is amazing considering LeBron is such an aggressive defender and recent NBA rule changes have pretty much discouraged aggressive perimeter defense. Amazingly, there was one five-game stretch in March where LeBron was not called for a single foul. Not one.

  In contrast, it certainly seems opposing defenders are not allowed to breathe on LeBron without being whistled for a foul. The perfect example came in Game 3 against the Magic when Dwight Howard cleanly blocked LeBron's shot near the end of the game, but was whistled for his sixth foul. What's it tell you when officials are willing to foul out one team's superstar (Dwight Howard) on an obviously bad call near the end of an important playoff game in Orlando just to protect LeBron, who is sent to the foul line to shoot three free throws at the end of a game that is still in doubt?

  It tells me that officials, like everybody else in the NBA, will do anything just to keep LeBron happy.

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