Carmelo Anthony has been around the block a few times, and like a number of veteran players (or retired ones), he can talk about the olden days with a certain wistfulness and nostalgia.
When asked about the recent rising tensions between referees and players, Anthony talked about the past — but spoke to what a lot of players are saying has changed, that there is less communication between the referees and players. This is what Anthony said, via Royce Young of ESPN.
“The game has changed a lot since I came in 15 years ago, the players and the officials had that dialogue, whether it was good or whether it was bad, there was always a point where they would let you get a little steam off, and then would come to you and say that’s enough, let’s move on,” Anthony said. “And now, the trigger is too quick. You look at somebody wrong, you get a technical foul. You say one wrong thing, you get a technical foul. So I think that’s the difference from when I came in, the dialogue and communication and the relationship the players and officials [had] when I first came in and from now is a lot different.”
Anthony is correct, but this is a two-way street. Referees felt players were trying to show them up — this wasn’t usually a calm, rational discussion of the call, it was a player being demonstrative and venting, which can rile up a crowd — and so with the league’s blessing the officials shut that door to a degree.
Should players be allowed to vent? Yes. It’s an emotional game and we want to see that emotion, not have robots out there playing it. However, if a player throws up his arms after every call that doesn’t go his way, if he gets into the officials night after night, there’s going to be pushback. There needs to be a line for how much a player can say to an official, and right now the players don’t know where that line is. It seems to vary widely from official to official.
This is all why the players and referees need to sit down and talk. With or without the league present. Maybe dialogue off the court can lead to better dialogue on the court.