When there is a questionable goal in a Tuesday night NHL game between the Kings and Rangers, the referees do not skate over near the penalty box, stare at a monitor and try to figure out what happened. All NHL replays are reviewed and the call is made out of the league office in a centralized system, the answer phoned in to the referees.
As replays have dragged out some NBA playoff games — and plenty of regular season ones, as well — the league is considering a similar system, NBA Commissioner David Stern said at his final pre-Finals press conference.
“You know, we want to get it right. And we do have concerns about additional replay, but we’re looking at it,” Stern said. “And we’re actually even toying with the notion of whether replay can be done off site review, the way it’s done in the NHL, to relieve the burden on the referees, who are stuck in the middle of intense game time action. Might have some difficulty with the noise communicating to the truck exactly which play they want.
“And whether it’s through off site review or more intense review of a different kind, we’ve got to find a way to make it a little smoother. But we like it a lot, because it is very much evidence of the fact that we care about getting it right.
NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver — the guy taking over for Stern next February — sounded eve more committed to the idea.
“And just to add, an off site review would potentially speed up the process as well,” Silver said, getting at the most common complaint about the review process. “In addition to the noise and the complication, you have an official trying to talk to a producer in the truck calling for a particular replays. And the sense is similar, as David said, to what the NHL does. If you have a group of officials in a broadcast center somewhere, location could almost be anywhere in this day of age of digital media, there wouldn’t be that delay which officials need to walk over, turn the monitor around, put the headphones on, call for the replays. You could have off site officials looking at multiple monitors at once.”
There is no timeline for implementation of this in place; it would need to be approved by the owners.
What we as fans could hope for is that it would lead to consistency of calls. If Nazr Mohammed gets ejected for a two-hand shove to a guy, then Chris Andersen should get ejected for the same play. Consistency. That’s all we ask. And guys in a room at the league office, away from the heat of the moment, should be able to do that.
One other thing that was clear from Stern’s and Silver’s comments — if you hate everything about review, you are out of luck. It is not going away.
Which is good — getting the call right matters. They just need to find a more efficient way to do it and this may be it.