Winderman: NBA should adopt NHL’s “hockey central” foul review

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No sooner did the forearms of Tyson Chandler meet the force of LeBron James then the referees in Game 1 of Heat-Knicks huddled to come up with what has been the consensus answer for flagrant fouls this season: Assume the worst and allow the video to sort it out.

With all Flagrant Foul 2 calls subject to video review, it has become the easy way out.

Call it a Flagrant 1 and play continues, without review. But rule it a Flagrant 2, which Danny Crawford certainly knew it wasn’t, and you not only can downgrade it to a Flagrant 1, but downgrade it to a mere personal foul, as well.

The reality was Chandler was never at risk for automatic Flagrant 2 ejection. Crawford knew it; Chandler knew it.

But to have to go through with the courtside charade is a bit much.

What the NBA needs is go to the NHL’s “hockey central” approach, where all video issues are handled from the central league office by someone who can assess the issue without the emotion of being on scene, alongside peering players and combustible coaches, in front of frenzied fans.

Beyond that, there would be a single standard for all such flagrant-foul determinations, not what Dan Crawford is feeling in Miami, Joey Crawford is feeling in L.A. or Scott Foster is feeling in San Antonio.

It also would speed play to a degree that shot-clock issues and other re-settable timing issues, or even 3-point judgments, could be handled as play is continuing, rather during ensuing stoppages courtside.

With the NHL, there is one voice nightly in Toronto on what is and isn’t a goal.

With almost no overlap of NBA games in the postseason, such timing and judgment issues could be handled by even higher authorities in the league’s New York office rather than by exhausted officials who work without the opportunity to rest their feet.

Heck, have David Stern handle it from his couch.

Particularly with flagrant fouls, decisions that have to be made in the moment, a uniform league standard would level the playing field, when even an NBA neophyte can recognize that some officials are better than others, some more prone to eject than others.

When it comes to ejections, as it is with suspensions, why not handle all such matters from the league office, and allow the referees to sort out more mundane issues, like block-charge?

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 @IraHeatBeat.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.