Not one technical was called on a player in the Celtics and Heat season opener. Two teams with guys known for lighting into officials.
In the Lakers game Lamar Odom got called for an early offensive foul said, something to the referee but you could see him pause, and just think better of it and back up. In early preseason games what Odom did might have gotten a call, but the referees seem to be finding a balance with this.
Then at the end of the first half, Kevin Martin fouled Kobe Bryant while shooting and casually punched the air then ran to the other end of the court in frustration — he got T’d up. For something that seemed fairly innocent but has been called all preseason.
David Stern said it would be like this.
He did, right before the Laker game talking to the media he said a balance would be found.
“You’ll see it as it plays out…” Stern said. “It’s hard. You know what’s okay and what you don’t like. And when somebody thinks they’ve been fouled and rather than getting back on defense they spend the entire time explaining to the referee, all the way up — stop it. That’s only designed to undermine the official.”
Stern was asked about the motivation and spirit of the new crackdown on complaining.
“The spirit of it is our players don’t do that in elementary school, junior high, high school, college, and then they get their masters in complaining when they get to the NBA,” Stern said. “And that’s not a good thing because they’re great players. And they should not be complaining, they should be playing because the more they play the more people love this game.”
That sounds nice in a vacuum, but basketball is an emotional and passionate game. It’s hard to see why Martin running away in frustration is the big deal. But in one other big, nationally televised game opening night, players complained less and referees didn’t have the quick trigger. Maybe that balance will be found long term. But you can also bet there will be some rough spots ahead. And Stern will get to address this situation. Again.