Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, Draymond Green picked up his 11th technical foul of the season, this one for arguing a call with an official more than the referee would tolerate. Five more technicals this season and Green will be suspended for a game (and we’re not even to the halfway point of the season yet).
After the game, a frustrated Green vented about the officiating to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (hat tip NBC Sports Bay Area), saying things seem to have gotten personal with referees toward him, and that the issues between players and officials are ruining the game.
“It’s bad… It’s horrible. It’s really bad. I don’t know why it is. But I think it’s ridiculous.
“It’s ruining the game. It should be one of, if not the main priority, to be solved. It definitely should.”
What exactly would solve it?
“They can get a new crop (of referees), a whole new crop,” Green said. “Too many personal things going on. Too much me against you. It just don’t work that way.”
Obviously, a fine is coming for Green from the league office.
Green plays the game with his emotions on his sleeve — that’s part of what makes him the player he is. But the other edge of that sword is he complains about a lot of calls, loudly, and eventually that wears on referees. They are human, too.
Tension seem higher than they have been in decades between NBA players and referees — LeBron James got ejected for the first time ever this season. Kevin Durant has been ejected. Shaun Livingston was suspended a game and referee Courtney Kirkland a week after their encounter. Representatives of the NBA players union and the referee’s union are expected to sit down soon and discuss what is causing the rising tensions and what can be done about them. (Getting a whole new crop of officials is a HORRIBLE idea, and if you don’t think so think back to the last referee’s strike and the scabs that filled in and were ill prepared. Or just watch an international or college game. NBA referees are far from perfect, but they are the best in the world at their job.)
NBA players are frustrated that when they want to talk to an official about a call, they get shown a “stop sign” hand or don’t feel listened to. (This is one reason the NBA hired Monty McCutchen as an executive, to have one of the best communicating refs teach others how to do it.) Green and the players have a point, they should be able to make a case to an official on what they see as a blown call.
But from the perspective of the referee, NBA players throw up their arms and whine about the majority calls every night. Most of the time the players, and coaches are working the officials trying to get an edge on future calls. However, if you’re an official how much of that can you hear a game and keep tuning it out? These are human beings who make mistakes, but if all you do is criticize every call against you at what point do the referees take your arguments seriously?
There needs to be better communication between players and referees, but it’s a two-way street.