Getty Images

Two way street: Players not respecting NBA referees, which exacerbates the problem


It’s not just James Harden and the Houston Rockets, it’s been a league-wide issue for a few years now: Players say something needs to be done about the officiating. They’re frustrated. After a loss (always after a loss), just about every name player and every coach in the league has called out the officiating, from Harden calling Scott Foster “rude and arrogant” to Joel Embiid ending a press conference with “the referees f ****** suck” there is a lot of venom flying at officials.

What we’ve seen in the last two days flows from that, this has been the extreme version of coaches and teams working the officials, trying to influence calls in the next game. It’s not new. Phil Jackson was a master at it. Pat Riley did it. Almost every playoff coach of the last 30 years has done this. This is just a louder version of it.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

That venom towards referees is worse during the game — how many plays a game does a player or coach not stare at the referee or say something about a call/lack of call? It feels like a handful. At most. Everyone complains continuously, even on what are obvious fouls or non-calls. The NBA’s poster child for clean play Stephen Curry is running down the court pointing at officials. Players can be slow to get back on defense so they can bark at referees.

That disrespect to the referees fuels the fans and the situation, and the league needs to address it. This isn’t a one-way street, the players are throwing fuel on the fire. Frank Isola had this quote from an anonymous coach in his story at the Athletic today.

“It is out of control and that includes my own team at times,” said one coach of a playoff team. “The league needs to do something about it.”

At the 2018 All-Star Game, there was a meeting between leaders from the players union and referees union, but it was reportedly sparsely attended and changed nothing.

Players and coaches are right, referees are quicker now with technical foul calls and even ejections, but that’s a reflection back to the league — the referees don’t feel protected and backed by the NBA league office, so they take it upon themselves. Chris Paul got a $35,000 fine (0.001 percent of his salary) and no suspension for bumping referee Josh Tiven after a call he didn’t like at the end of Game 1. Nets GM got a just one-game suspension and a fine for actually barging into the referees’ locker room after a game to complain about the calls. You think the other referees in the league didn’t note those incidents?

Tension between referees and players has always been there, and always will be. Especially in the postseason, when players are trying to gain every advantage, while referees are trying to enforce the rules in a fast-paced, hard-to-officiate sport. Tension is built into that dynamic.

Players have legitimate gripes with some of the calls and officiating, the league needs to find ways to improve those calls (a fourth on-court referee each game?), but the referees are certainly in the right to feel disrespected. Because they are. The players treat them that way every game, not just the playoffs. And all the whining is not a good image for the sport.

The organization with the ability to rein this in is the NBA league office, but so far they have given the players more leeway, not less.


Mavericks will have Dirk Nowitzki logo on court this season (PHOTO)

Leave a comment

Many teams had decided to get nostalgic this season. The Portland Trail Blazers have a special 50th anniversary court, the Denver Nuggets have some cool new jerseys, and the Memphis Grizzlies are kicking it back to their days in Vancouver.

But the Dallas Mavericks are winding the clock back to just last year.

It appears that Dallas will have a Dirk Nowitzki-shaped logo on their court next season. The logo looks like a watermark in the shape of Nowitzki’s famous one-legged fadeaway.

Via Twitter:

It looks like Mavericks players are already having fun at the expense of Nowitzki, and this is a great tribute that Dallas fans are sure to love.

Marc Gasol completes historic double, Spain wins World Cup

Getty Images

BEIJING (AP) — Marc Gasol looked to the sky as confetti fell, some sticking to his massive shoulders, and then cradled and kissed the giant golden chalice that goes to the World Cup champions.

He’s getting good at hoisting trophies.

Gasol got to bask in a championship celebration for the second time in three months — and this time, he did it for his country. Tournament MVP Ricky Rubio scored 20 points, Sergio Llull added 15 and Spain won the World Cup for the second time by topping Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

“We weren’t the most talented team,” Rubio said. “We weren’t the bigger team. Put anything you want, but we were the team with the biggest heart and we showed it tonight and we showed it during the whole tournament.”

Gasol scored 14 for the winners, who never trailed and added this crown to the one it claimed in 2006. And for him, 2019 will go down as a year the likes of which few others have enjoyed.

The Toronto Raptors center becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year, joining Lamar Odom — who did it for the Los Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball in 2010. Gasol also became the 19th to win either an NBA or WNBA crown along with a gold medal, either of the Olympic or World Cup variety, in the same year.

The first 18 all did it for the U.S.

This time, Vamos España!

“NBA champion and a World Cup champion as well,” Gasol said. “What can I say? How does it sound to you? I feel very fortunate to be in this position and be able to play this game and help these guys be part of history of Spanish basketball.”

Llull and Rudy Fernandez — the team captain, the one who initially got to accept the Naismith Trophy — went to cut down the nets shortly after the final buzzer. Gasol carried the game ball to the gold-medal ceremony, and Spanish fans wept in the stands during the national anthem.

Gabriel Deck scored 24 points for Argentina (8-1), which got off to a slow start and played uphill the rest of the way. Luis Scola was held to eight points, shooting 1 for 10 from the floor.

“We’re sad right now. We’re very sad,” Scola said. “But I feel confident, in hours, we’ll be able to look back and be very proud. They just played better than us. They were better. They deserved to win. They were the better team in the game and the tournament.”

Spain led 43-31 at intermission, after putting together a 14-2 run to open the game and a 17-1 run later in the half.

“This is basketball,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. “If you play better than the other team, you win the game. And Spain was the best team today.”

Scola, even at 39 years old still Argentina’s best player throughout the tournament, didn’t get on the scoresheet until he made a pair of free throws with 2:57 left in the third quarter. But they only cut the Spain lead to 19, and by then the Argentinian fans who stood, sang and chanted for much of the game were relatively quiet.

The day belonged to Spain.

And the year belongs to Gasol.

“It’s unbelievable,” Gasol said.

Watch highlights from France taking bronze at World Cup, beating Australia 67-59

Leave a comment

Just as they did five years ago at the last World Cup, France has come away with the bronze medal.

The French came from 15 down at one point to beat Australia 67-59 and win the third-place game at the FIBA World Cup in China. Former Spur Nando De Colo led the way for France with 19 points, Orlando’s Evan Fournier added 16 but on a rough shooting night (5-of–17), and Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum added nine points and six assists. You can see the game’s highlights above.

After the game, Fournier was talkative, including slamming the travel and schedule of this World Cup, spread all across China.

Utah was led by 17 points from Utah’s Joe Ingles and 15 from San Antonio’s Patty Mills.

Michael Jordan sells portion of Hornets to two new partners

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan is adding two partners to the Charlotte Hornets’ ownership group, selling them each a portion of the NBA franchise.

Gabe Plotkin, founder and chief investment officer of Melvin Capital, and Daniel Sundheim, founder and chief investment officer of D1 Capital, have joined the Hornets as partners, pending NBA approval.

Jordan, a six-time NBA champion, will remain the majority owner.

Jordan said in a statement released by the team Saturday that he’ll continue to be the man making decisions about the direction of the Hornets.

“I’m excited to welcome Gabe and Dan as my partners in Hornets Sports & Entertainment,” Jordan said. “While I will continue to run the Charlotte Hornets, make all decisions related to the team and organization, and remain the team’s NBA Governor, Gabe and Dan’s investment in the franchise is invaluable, as we continue to modernize, add new technology and strive to compete with the best in the NBA. Both Gabe and Dan are industry standard-setters and proven leaders, with a belief in philanthropy and a passion for the game of basketball. They share my commitment to Charlotte and the Carolinas, and I look forward to working with and learning from them.”