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.