Miami Heat James smiles after making a basket against Charlotte Bobcats during their NBA game in Charlotte

Winderman: League needs to clarify questionable calls for all teams, not just the Heat

8 Comments

By now you’ve read how @NBAOfficial confirmed what was apparent from the moment LeBron James went in six different directions (with six different steps) after giving up his dribble late in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Clippers:

That he traveled before he received a bailout foul call, one that enabled him to hit one of two foul shots and force the game to the extra period.

The outcry was immediate and widespread. And accurate.

It was an unavoidable controversy for the NBA. So the league quickly quieted it by posting, “Yes, LeBron should’ve been called for traveling on this play last night.”

Case closed?

Uh, not quite.

Go ahead, click on @NBAOfficial on Twitter and you’ll notice exactly two posts (as of this posting) through the first three weeks of the NBA season.

The first came in reference to a jump stop by the Heat’s Dwyane Wade on a game-winning shot in Charlotte. The post: “Was Wade’s game winner legal? Yes.”

The account’s second post showed up midday Thursday.

So, apparently, either there have been only two questionable calls this season, or @NBAOfficial is the league’s official watchdog of the Miami Heat.

Here’s the point: Of course Heat games are going to draw a higher degree of scrutiny. They draw a higher degree of interest.

But how can a league scrutinize only what the media, the blogosphere and passionate fans demand be addressed?

If you’re going to reassess calls after the fact, which actually is a darned good idea, then assess ’em all, or at least the ones that require a second look.

But a league can’t create a Twitter account that, apparently, has a sole function of addressing the sole issue of:

Did you see what the Miami Heat got away with last night?!

Sure LeBron walked. He seemed to have three pivot feet on the play, if that is even anatomically possible.

But there also was an issue with James’ late foul on Chauncey Billups while Billups was attempting a 3-pointer.

And question of whether a DeAndre Jordan block should have been a goaltend.

For years, the notion in the NBA has been that superstars are officiated differently. Yet speak privately to referees and they’ll tell you that the remarkable athleticism of those stars often can make what looks like a foul or violation actually into a clean play.

LeBron’s fancy footwork did a number on the officials Wednesday.

The league cleaned that up rather quickly Thursday.

But what about every other questionable call around the league Wednesday?

Where are those addressed?

Or does there have to be an @NBAOfficialForTheRestOfTheLeague?

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Watch Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant trade shots Saturday night

Leave a comment

Kevin Durant won the one-on-one battle — he dropped 40 points on the Golden State Warriors, while Stephen Curry had “just” 26 and needed 26 shots to get there (but did add 10 assists).

But the Warriors built up a lead thanks to their depth and were able to withstand a late Thunder run to get the win.

Enjoy watching Curry and Durant putting on a show Saturday night in the Bay Area.

Nerlens Noel uses length for ridiculous reverse jam

1 Comment

Nerlens Noel‘s 7’4″ wingspan can come in handy at times.

Such as when driving on Brook Lopez, and getting forced under the basket, he can just reach around the Nets’ center for the impressive dunk.

Noel finished the game with 18 points, Jahlil Okafor had 22, and the Sixers picked up a win against the Nets 103-98.

Kobe Bryant’s 25 points not enough to upset Spurs

1 Comment

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs have watched helplessly as Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has tormented them for the better part of the past two decades.

Bryant did so again in his final appearance in San Antonio, but the Spurs were able to enjoy this one.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a throwback performance by Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 on Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home.

“I thought it was great,” San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said. “It was a great game, fans were into it. It felt a little bit like the old days in the playoffs, Spurs and the Lakers.”

Kawhi Leonard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Spurs win their 28th straight home game to open the season. The Spurs’ 37th straight home victory dating back to last season was surprisingly difficult.

Bryant had 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter, going 3 for 6 on 3-pointers in guiding the Lakers to an 81-79 lead entering the fourth.

“I watched him growing up,” said Lakers guard and San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson, who finished with 21 points and four assists. “I watched him kill the Spurs.”

San Antonio has trailed for only two minutes in the fourth quarter at home this season, but the Lakers led for all but 23 seconds in the opening seven minutes of the period.

Bryant finished 9 for 28 from the field, but was 7 for 18 in a dynamic second half that electrified a pro-Bryant crowd.

“It’s like watching Michael (Jordan),” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “I was just watching. It was great. It was great. We made some mistakes. He took advantage of it. He’s fantastic.”

After rising to drain a 3-pointer with Leonard squarely in his face contesting the attempt, Bryant turned to an injured Tim Duncan on the bench and shrugged his shoulders.

“He was like, `No way,’ and I was like `Dude,’ ” Bryant said. “What could I do? I miss the easy ones and make some B.S. like that. I don’t even know what to tell you. It was Tim’s version of a yell, so it was a strong whisper.”

The Lakers trailed 101-99 lead after trading 3-pointers following Bryant’s improbable shot, but the Spurs’ were able to hold Los Angeles to just three points in the final 2 minutes.

“Missed defensive assignments,” said Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, who had 12 points. “They executed their offense to perfection. We were young and that’s an excuse I could give you.”

Bryant had a sore right shoulder, but he was not about to miss one last game against his fiercest rivals. He has faced the Spurs 90 times in the regular season and postseason, his most against any opponent.

TIP-INS

Lakers: The Spurs honored Bryant with a 3-minute video. The Spurs’ Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all paid tribute to Bryant’s competitiveness along with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Bryant walked over to the Spurs’ bench prior to tipoff and hugged Popovich, sharing a few words with San Antonio’s longtime coach.

Spurs: San Antonio’s 12-game lead in the Southwest is the largest ever since the division was formed in 2004-2005. … In addition to Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs were also without Matt Bonner. The reserve forward suffered a left calf strain Friday against Dallas, which was just his 20th game of the season. … Pop star Selena Gomez sat courtside, wearing a Tony Parker jersey.

 

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below: