Tag: Referees

Referee Crawford calls a technical foul on Oklahoma City Thunder Brooks in the first half during Game 3 of the NBA basketball finals in Miami.

Our annual reminder to fans: The referees are not deciding the finals


Every year it is part of the narrative of the NBA finals — fans the team coming out on the bottom are convinced that their heroes would win if it were not for the referees clearly having it in for their team and David Stern trying to determine the outcome. You can count on it like rain showers on a humid day on Maui, like you can count on coming across an interesting smell walking the streets of New York.

The last few days it’s the Thunder fans — Kevin Durant keeps getting in foul trouble, LeBron James isn’t getting in trouble, the Heat took 11 more free throws in Game 3 and clearly this is all being controlled by Stern and the Illuminati. And Jay-Z.

Stop it. Just stop it. The referees are not deciding the finals.

Their calls are not perfect, and we can all agree that some of the calls in the last game on Kevin Durant were borderline.

But the refs had been calling it tight on the perimeter all game and Durant didn’t adjust. Plus, Brooks has him often guarding one of the strongest and most aggressive players the league has ever seen, and LeBron James happens to be on a hot streak, too. That’s your problem.

Let me break it down.

• The Thunder didn’t lose Game 2 because of a no call on Durant’s last shot, they lost because they were down 18-2 to start the game. The Heat only won one quarter of that game, the first quarter, but it turns out that counts as much as the other three. Who knew?

• The free throw disparity in Game 3 is because the Heat were aggressive and getting into the paint. Plus you stupidly fouled three point shooters twice. In Game 3 the Heat had 35 shots right at the rim and took 35 free throws, the Thunder took 27 shots at the rim and had 24 free throws. That’s called correlation folks.

• LeBron isn’t getting in foul trouble because he’s a good defender that really never gets in foul trouble. He fouled out in the playoffs last round and it was the first time ever he fouled out in the post season. For a guy drawing tough defensive assignments every night it’s a testament to the fact he’s good. That’s not a conspiracy.

• You lost Game 3 because Scott Brooks kept Durant on LeBron then when Durant was in foul trouble sat Russell Westbrook at the same time, so Miami went on a 15-3 run. But it was still close late and you lost because James Harden was a hot mess. Plus you missed nine free throws.

Again, I’m not saying the officiating has been stellar, it hasn’t been. There have been some odd calls. But that’s not why the Thunder lost the last two games, and if the Thunder win Game 4 it will not be because of the officials. (I know some of you will say I’m pro-Heat on this, which also is wrong. I’d say this to Heat fans if the Thunder were up 2-1. Ask the readers of my old Lakers blog how often I ticked them off saying it wasn’t the referees.)

Not that you believe any of this. Fans love conspiracies. You love the idea of the referee on the grassy knoll actually deciding it all. So have fun with it. Just know you’re wrong.

LeBron, Pierce foul out of sadly whistle-happy game

LeBron James

The biggest problem for the NBA is that the day after every major game we are discussing the officiating.

And the officiating — particularly late in Game 4 of Miami and Boston — was a key part of the story Sunday. There were five offensive foul calls in the second half of the fourth quarter and overtime. Joey Crawford and crew were not shy with the borderline calls. Both LeBron James and Paul Pierce fouled out offensive fouls.

Every fan base is sure the officials are out to screw them, and like any good conspiracy theory there is just enough “evidence” fuel the speculation. Thing is, in this case there were just a series of bad calls.

Like the call that fouled LeBron out of the game. LeBron was trying to establish post position and Mickael Pietrus pulled the chair. Both men fell. ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said you have to make some kind of call there, I say he’s wrong. No you don’t. LeBron picked up his fifth foul on a cop-out “double foul” call and fouled out on this.

LeBron had not fouled out of any game since 2008, which considering he draws some tough defensive assignments is an impressive feat. He had never fouled out of a playoff game. But in this game the calls were tight and there was no “play on.”

Pierce has fouled out three times in the last two series, which seems a strange trend but he’s picking up a lot of offensive fouls.

And he fouled out on one — he was coming across the lane, Shane Battier ran in front of him, Pierce did bring his arm up and Battier went down. Could have, should have been a no call in my book, but the whistle blew.

All game long it was like this. Ray Allen stepped out of bounds then passed to Keyon Dooling for a key first half three. On one play Pierce was fouled by LeBron, but only after Pierce had traveled to get the shot. That somehow was a no call.

And there was no shortage of flopping by both teams all night.

So we end up with another game where the NBA’s officiating is at the heart of the post-game conversation. This time it’s not Boston fans whining about perceived injustice (they shouldn’t this game, they caught some real breaks), it was just uneven all night.

And the bigger problem for the NBA is there are no easy answers out there.

There is not some magical pool of better officials out there the NBA is ignoring. (If you think so, you forgot what the scab refs looked like last labor fight.) More replay all game is not the answer. The game is fast and filled with big men and whatever the officials do they are wrong. “Superstars get all the calls” but then they call some on LeBron and Pierce and we point out they were not good calls. All we can ask for is consistency.

There just wasn’t any Sunday night.

Quote of the day: Frank Vogel hopes the Heat don’t get too many whistles


From our own Ira Winderman, here are some fighting words from Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel, whose team will meet the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat in Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs on Sunday:

“It’ll be very interesting to see how the referees officiate the series and how much flopping they reward. . . . Every drive to the basket they have guys not making a play on the ball, but sliding in front of drivers. Often times they’re falling down even before contact is even being made. It’ll be interesting to see how the series is officiated.”

Clearly, Vogel is already trying to “work the refs” a bit here. Given that he didn’t get very specific with his officiating complaints, I’d be surprised if Vogel got fined for his comments, but you never know when somebody makes a comment about NBA officiating.

Mavericks’ owner Cuban fined $75k for criticizing referees

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets

Apparently today is national “fine everyone in the Mavericks organization day.”

But like with the coach, we pretty much all knew this was coming. Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has been fined $75,000 for his criticism of official after the Mavericks loss to Oklahoma City Wednesday. League VP and enforcer Stu Jackson made the announcement Friday.

After the Mavs loss to the Thunder, Cuban said:

“Look, I haven’t said a whole lot about the officiating in a long, long time, but I haven’t seen it this bad in a long, long time,” Cuban told ESPNDallas.com in the Mavericks’ weight room after the loss. “Guys miss calls; that’s part of the game. You’re not always going to have a great crew. Officials have got to learn that’s part of the game.

“But these were officials that have been part of the league for years, and it was just off-the-charts bad. And, if no one ever says anything, nothing ever happens.”

He had to know he’d be pulling out his checkbook the second he opened his mouth.

And again, the reason the officials are a little off this season is they are tired because they are working without much rest either due to the ridiculous, compressed 66-game schedule the owners wanted so they could make their money back. It comes full circle, Mr. Cuban.

Mark Cuban isn’t happy with the officiating. Stunning.

Mark Cuban Dan Crawford

Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has a valid point — by my subjective measures the officiating seems to be worse this season. Cuban certainly has objective measures — he’s got guys breaking down the numbers — ones I’m sure show up in David Stern’s inbox quite often.

Cuban told ESPNDallas.com he is not happy with the officiating this season after the Mavericks loss to the Thunder Wednesday night.

“Look, I haven’t said a whole lot about the officiating in a long, long time, but I haven’t seen it this bad in a long, long time,” Cuban told ESPNDallas.com in the Mavericks’ weight room after the loss. “Guys miss calls; that’s part of the game. You’re not always going to have a great crew. Officials have got to learn that’s part of the game.

“But these were officials that have been part of the league for years, and it was just off-the-charts bad. And, if no one ever says anything, nothing ever happens.”

Here’s the thing — this is on Cuban and the owners. They locked everyone out and then pushed for a condensed 66-game schedule so they could make their money back. Kelly Dwyer puts it well over at Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie.

Secondly, the sheer amount of games that the NBA has greedily mashed together (66 will be placed this year in a space that usually seats about 50) is forcing the referees to officiate even more games than the players are playing. This is a long work week, with insane amounts of travel; and as the cliché goes, every game is a road game for the referees.

Basically, just like the players in the games, it’s all a little sloppy right now. Yes there are a lot of new officials, yes there could be better transparency, but in the end that’s not going to change the product. It’s very, very hard to referee the game at this level and these men and women are better at it than anyone. What they could use is a little more rest.