The Last Word On Officials | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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The Last Word On Officials

As per usual, blogs are at least a few days ahead of national story lines.  The story line this week is the officiating.  Today, it's because of Rondo's foul on Brad Miller (watch it here) and whether it should have been a flagrant.

I'm officially sick of the topic.  Here's what I know to be true.

  • In any given game, the losing team's fans have a legitimate beef that they didn't get calls.
  • In any given game, a foul that is called early won't be called late… and vice versa
  • Certain players get the benefit of the doubt, and certain players are more likely to get fouls

None of this is going to change.  We can keep making it a topic if you guys want, but we're at a point where we're all saying the same thing.  Just like we know some of the Game 4 fouls on Perk were bogus, we know there's no way in hell he didn't foul anyone last night.

There are issues with NBA officiating, and they'll still need to be discussed.  But I'd like to live by a little creed around here if we could for a while:  If the game is close enough to be decided by a blown call, you probably should have done more to avoid that situation earlier in the game. 

All that said.  I'm going to put up a guest post by DRJ, perhaps the most vocal anti-official fan on the web.  Remember, this is a guest column, and guest columns reflect the opinion of the writer, not necessarily  It's a forum we provide for you passionate fans.  You can email a guest column to us:  Just because you send it, doesn't mean it will be published.
The March Of History Demands Change


In every city, fans complain about NBA refs. In almost every game,
there are several atrociously bad calls. Fans everywhere are disgusted,
and some are losing interest in pro basketball altogether. I understand
that… hell, I agree with it. If not for the Celtics, I would ignore
the entire rotten NBA mess.

Are the refs worse now that in decades past? Why are there so many more
complaints these days? Is there illegality involved, i.e., fixing of

The answer to that last question has to be: “Yes, sometimes.” Donaghy
could not have been an isolated case. And we have all seen it. There
are games where the calls are so incredibly one-sided, nothing short of
corruption could explain it.

But that is the exception, not the rule. Mostly, it's apparent
incompetence we're seeing. So what about that? Are the refs less
competent now than in years past? Why have things gotten so bad?

The problem for the NBA is that they are now fighting the march of
history. Human history is largely determined by technological change.
Everything from the discovery of fire, to the wheel, gunpowder, the
Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Age, modern medicine, and now
the Digital Age. The NBA's problem is that it has not yet realized that
it is facing a new DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY which threatens its existence.
Like every enterprise that does not bend to the winds of change… it
will break if it does not adapt.

The disruptive technology is digital video. It started with instant
replays on TV. But now, many people have DVRs at home, giving most fans
the power to see EXACTLY what occurred on EVERY play.

The refs are no worse now than they have been since the start of the
NBA. It's a hard job. You have to see things that happen in literally
hundredths of a second. Often, it's IMPOSSIBLE to see what actually
happened with the naked eye. So the refs go by the REACTIONS they see
to the events in question (think flops, etc.) Which of course leads to
errors. It's inevitable. It's part of the game.

The problem is: WE SEE EVERYTHING NOW. Right there on our TV screens –
in slow motion, no less. The refs are not worse, it's just that our
vision is so much better. EVERY mistake they make is seen by everybody.
So of course, every fan complains.

Now, it must be said that the Celtics get it worse than anybody. (Of
course!) But all fans think that about their team. I've seen the Lakers
get the shaft many times too. No, the problem is system-wide.

The NBA must change. Fans will not stand for the ineptitude they see on
their screens for long. The decision must be made – do we want a league
where referee error is an ACCEPTED PART OF THE GAME? Or do we want
every call to be as correct as possible? I believe virtually every fan
wants the latter, not the former. (It's unimaginable that anyone would
think referee errors are systemically ok.) And since the NBA exists for
the fans, it must change, or risk losing us. If they lose us, they
cease to exist.

This is what could be done:
(1)- Add 2 video-booth refs. Give them the power to override any
on-court call. Both video refs must agree for an override to occur.
Such an override must come before the next play occurs. Also give them
the power to call a brief timeout if the review is difficult.  (To save
manpower, they could reduce the number of on-court refs back to 2.)

(Note: There may be other ideas for incorporating video technology into the solution. This is one way.)

(2)- Institute new rules regarding technical fouls. Refs must not have
the power to call it whenever they feel like it. There must be a
specific, identifiable transgression. Are there words you don't like?
Fine, give us a list. You can't call a tech just because somebody talks
to you. That is ridiculous. That crap from Kennedy when he threw Doc
out of the game was absolutely unacceptable, and that kind of thing
happens too often.

(3)- Institute new rules regarding fouls, using the advantage/disadvantage model. No harm, no foul.

With these changes (especially #1), the NBA would instantly pull itself
into the 21st century. Fan complaints would mostly disappear. Almost
every play would be accurately called. Even referee bias (and
occasional corruption?) would improve, because the refs would know that
someone is always watching over them. Yes, it sounds like an impossible
dream – but with these few changes, it could happen. If the NBA instead
foolishly clings to its current antiquated system of relying on human
eyes only – and let's face it, some of those humans belong in a
geriatric ward, not running around on a basketball court – they must
ultimately fail.

The problem is: I don't think they yet realize that they're facing the
challenge of a disruptive technology, and how serious that is. David
Stern: please read.

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  • Speaking of the officiating, why hasn’t Ben Gordon been fined yet for the menacing gesture that he keeps doing after he hits a three?
    Looks something like this:

  • Good stuff DRJ. I can only hope that the NBA does SOMETHING to attempt to fix this problem, hopefully without slowing the game down any more than it already is with the current system.

  • Boston Man

    He’s throwing “three’s up” Boston sign lol

  • DRJ

    Adding some tweaks to the video ref concept:
    – There would be 2 of them, both in the same room. They can make their own calls too, if they seem something on their (multiple) screens that the other refs missed.. They just have to do it on time, before the next play, just like the on-court refs.
    – This would also help eliminate the feeling everybody has when we get a homer call… “that’s ok, it makes up for all those other calls we got screwed on.” What we have now is a comedy of errors out there. What we want is a real game.

  • Atomic Man

    You people are crazy. That was an absolute flagrant foul on Miller. You can spew all the BS you want about the refs but you need to make that call in that situation.
    Lets face it, the Celtics got lucky and did not deserve to win that game.
    I can’t wait to smack that stupid scoul off of KG’s face, he is nothing but a THUG. Rondo is a freakin Alien looking mo fo. Tell Doc to lay off the cocaine for the rest of the series.
    You people can blog all day about your beloved Celtics but they are going nowhere. Keep blowing each other about how good they are and how much you love them.
    Who the hell cares.
    Bulls in Seven suckas

  • anna

    How does one team “not deserve” to win a game? The Bulls got lucky in Game 4 that Gordon’s 3 went in. I mean, do you see what an arbitrary statement that is? Rondo didn’t throw Miller down, like we saw Miller do to Ray Allen and not get called for…so I thought the non-flagrant call was consistent. It was harder than he intended but it’s Rondo vs. Brad Miller I think Rondo got the benefit of the doubt. It’s in the eye of the beholder. Bulls still wouldve had to get a shot off with basically one second on the clock.
    So yes, we deserved to win as much as Chicago deserved to win. Whatever that means…

  • baron

    hes throwing up a bulls eye actually

  • baron

    rondo is a freakin alien looking mo fo?
    Um okay, as if rose is anything to look at. creep.
    And I see this alot “you guys arent going anywhere anyways”
    and? whats your point? the bulls are?

  • baron

    Oh, and I just wanna know why the fuck it matters if it was a flagrant foul or not? first of all, if they were calling the game the same way as they were for the bulls, the game wouldve been over on the missed layup
    they fucking gave miller a chance to tie the game and sent it into a 2nd OT, and he missed. moron.
    way to whipe that smirk over brad millers face rajon, fucking all that guy did was instiagte and he whines likes a pussy when he gets hit in the lip by a guy a foot shorter then him

  • Lakerhater

    Your big man got bitch slapped by a point guard and then cried about it. Pay back for the bullsh*t double foul pick on Ray Ray.
    Celtics in 6

  • I guess it’s Rondos fault that he fouled the girliest player in the NBA in Brad Miller who probably proceeded to cry about the fact some a foot shorter than him actually fouled him.

  • “I can’t wait to smack that stupid scoul off of KG’s face, he is nothing but a THUG”
    Really son? YOU can’t wait to smack what now? Internet gangsta ain’t smacking nothing but yourself to the Joakim Noah poster in your room.

  • JS33

    The problem I see with the refs in a booth calling stuff is that it would mess with the flow of the game . Maybe something like the NFL uses would work though . Give the coaches a challenge flag and a set number of times they could use it and lose a timeout if you’re wrong . I think that might work .

  • It’s a tough game to officiate, a big admission from a guy who’s been run a few times by the stripes.
    But with that said, it’s an absolute abomination to assign a Bulls fan to work Game 4.
    About as much of an abomination as the Brad Miller hook on Allen that turned into a gift from Heaven that the Bulls couldn’t capitalize on. Christmas comes early for Vinny Del Crier.
    As for the Rondo foul, if you’ve ever played hoops for five minutes, you’ve been smacked hard in the face.
    The irony of the Bulls’ house goon being wiped out by a skinny point guard shouldn’t be lost upon anyone.
    Flagrant foul? Only if Danny Crawford and Bill Kennedy are working the game.

  • baron

    I am stunned and tottally pissed the fuck off, that now this rondo foul is turning into the story, tottally taking away from his play, the game and the great overall physical series. give me a goddamn break already, ESPN is a joke

  • DRJ

    No, it wouldn’t mess with the flow. Most of the time you wouldn’t hear from them. They would fix the on-court refs’ errors as they happen, and occasionally make calls on their own. Flow would not be affected, but accuracy would be hugely improved.

  • Al

    Blokes replying to atomic man? Ignore the prick and chill out. For what it’s worth I think it was a flagrant and the refs got it right by looking at the replay.
    As for the video ref idea – Dr J I think that’d be a mess. Can u imagine video refs trying to push a button or talk into a mike to the real refs before the next play begins?? It’d be chaos.
    Here’s an example. Let’s say the Miller play happens with 2 minutes left or whatever and the scores are tied. Rondo knows he’s fouled Miller but the refs for some reason don’t call it. What would Rondo do??
    Get the ball in as quick as he can!!!!! Miller’s lying grabbing his head, the refs think something may have happened but didn’t call it and the C’s are off down court!!!!!

  • I don’t think the NBA wants any replay system to make correct calls. Because with this system they get what they want, visibility, in all media, at all costs.
    I don’t know if you’re familiar with soccer, but that’s exactly what happens there. They don’t want any instant replay system. If refs called every situation right, sportscasters would be speaking for an hour about the games, and nothing more. Instead, they talk about the games for an hour AND about the refs errors for another hour, which means more media exposition… and it’s the same for NBA. It’s rotten, but it’s the way showbusiness works, and we have to get along with it.

  • Atomic Man

    Finally you fuckers show a little life on this blog instead of the mundain ass kissing of the Celtics.
    Reading all your boring blogs lately is putting me to sleep, its a freakin Celtics love fest.
    Pick up a hobby- go for a bike ride or something.
    Again, the Celts are going nowhere.
    Peace out Suckas
    btw- Pierce will never be an MJ

  • baron

    faggot bitch slap? actually no, that was brad millers response, fasggot bitch
    and hahaha, its all in the eye of the beholder because thats a crock of shit, they werent calling anything on the celics, OR THE BULLS, most of the series, until they see a ticky tack one and decide to call it, ray allen fouls out for breathing? BWHAHAHAH
    Oh, and laker fasns can stop comparing KG with Bynum, because thats a load of shit. that would be equivalent to the celtics losing perkins. not KG

  • baron

    Pierce will never be an MJ…um hmm okay? noones saying he is.
    Celtics are going nowhere, um and which realistic fan thinks they are? do you think youre hurting someones feelings?
    where are the bulls going?
    why are you a faggot?

  • DRJ

    No problem. Not a mess at all. The video refs have 5-7 screens to look at. They have NO MORE time to make any call than the on-court refs have. If they catch something, they call it. If not, play continues. If the on-court refs blow the whistle, the video refs get a a little time to look it over, see if the call was right or not. If ok, they do nothing. If they disagree, they must override before the next play occurs on the court.
    Very simple. Very easy. And much, much more accurate. It’s a total misconception that embracing the new technology would somehow slow the game down. It wouldn’t, if it’s done right. And it’s crazy for the NBA to just ignore the problem. Think horse-and-buggy makers. Or newspapers. Or even music CD makers. You adapt, or you die.
    (In your example, if the on-court refs missed it, AND the video refs missed it… then that’s that… play continues. Where’s the problem?)

  • DRJ

    You may be right. If you are, all the more reason for some of us to walk away from the sport. Count me as one of those.

  • DRJ

    Well, ThatGuyOverTheOcean’s post has made me think. Maybe fans don’t want the reffing to change. Maybe they like things the way they are, because:
    (a) It gives them something to talk about long after the game.
    (b) It gives them a ready-made excuse for losing. I like to think I can tell the difference between games we deserve to lose and those stolen by the refs, but I can see that many fans use the refs as an excuse for EVERY loss.
    (c) It’s part of the game… what can you get away with, what won’t the refs see? That’s the key question actually… IS IT REALLY PART OF THE GAME? Is that what we want?
    I hold firmly to the opinion that if referee errors and bias are really part of the game, then this is a game I need to get away from. But others may disagree. Maybe they do. Maybe I’m in the minority, wanting as-close-to-perfect refereeing as possible…

  • Atomic Man

    Baron- Why do you keep calling everybody a faggot, you must love the cock my friend. Nothing to be ashamed of, wait- yes it is.
    Inferno- you are correct about the zoo
    where are the Bulls going?- Second round my friend
    where are the Celts going?- Home
    Lets face it, the Celtics will never be as good as the “Greatest team in NBA History” The 95-96 Bulls.
    Not even your Lakers Mr. Inferno
    Go Bulls
    see ya Losers

  • DRJ

    Dear Troll–
    Don’t know why I’m bothering to respond to your ridiculous posts, but FYI… the Bulls are at best a mediocre team this year, playing way over their heads. They’ve had a lot of lucky shots and bounces (and calls), or they’d have been eliminated already. That they will not make it to second is pretty obvious, but you go ahead and hallucinate a little while longer, son. Just spit the froth in the other direction please.

  • I love it when two lovers find each other.

  • Lakerhater

    Welcome back flamer, and your right Pierce is no Michael Cooper- THANK GOD.

  • Al

    So basically u have more guys watching the same plays with the possibility that more guys make the same calls. Can u imagine 5 guys having the opportunity to make a call??
    I’m not arguing with the fact that something needs to be done but I live in New Zealand where rugby and league ( a game like rugby) are huge games, we’ve had video refs for about 4 or 5 years and it slows the game down enormously while they try to see if someone scored.
    I think the NBA are heading in the right direction reviewing plays when they can (even this slows it down) but dudes looking at screens being able to intervene whenever they see fit would be a chore to watch IMO…

  • Al

    DrJ – I replied above – sorry been away all day – thought I’d point out my thoughts as this is a worthwhile discussion – far more worthwhile than the stench coming from other mouths….

  • DRJ

    No need for 3 guys on the court if there are 2 guys in a booth. 2+2 = total of one more ref… the result of which would be a quantum leap in accuracy. Small price to pay, I would think…
    But on further thought, it seems to me many fans care less about this issue than I thought. I think a lot of them kinda like the imprecision of the current system. It gives them something to complain about, to commiserate over, to blame for losses, and to laugh at. Maybe fans just don’t want perfect calls. I’m not sure anymore.
    All I can say is that I do. For me, the game isn’t worth watching if it boils down to a comedy of errors, and whoever gets the most laughs (i.e., the benefit of the worst calls), wins. Not what I have in mind when I watch sport. But… I may be in the minority in this.

  • DRJ

    …And I replied to your reply.