NBA Refs are officially embarrassing | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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NBA Refs are officially embarrassing

Just when you think the officiating in the NBA can't get any worse, the league has been forced to step in and fix calls after the fact.  Before these playoffs, I barely ever heard of the NBA rescinding or assessing technicals and flagrants the day after a game.  But now, it seems to be happening after almost every game. 

Chuck has already run down all the reversed and revised calls from this post season… which is basically and admission by the league that their officials are incompetent.  If they weren't, would the league have to keep revising calls?

I've long said that NBA officiating is probably the worst in professional sports.  The refs in the NBA have more of an influence on the outcome than officials in any other sport.  They are inconsistent and many get caught up in the emotion of a game.  Not only that… when a coach complains after a game about the calls, you can almost guarantee his team will get more calls the next time around.  Take, for example, last night's game.  After game 4, Phil Jackson complained about the refs, following it up with this:

"I'm a gardener. I like planting seeds . . . constantly."

Planting seeds… as in with the refs.  He knows that his bitching will get back to them.  He was fined $50,000… which is like me getting fined the spare change in my pocket.  After last night's game, a Nuggets player had this response:

"The Lakers paid $50,000 to win that game.
They got their money's worth," said a Denver player, not wanting to be
identified for fear of retribution from the league.

Could things be worse for the NBA when it comes to officials?  This is the playoffs, when the best of the best are supposed to be working.  Yet we get more overturned or retroactively assessed penalties than anyone can remember.

Yes, sometimes some people take the criticism of officials a little too far.  Refs can't see EVERYTHING.  Plays happen so fast and the bodies are so big… it's impossible for them to make every split second judgment correctly.  I'll cut them that slack.  I'll also accept that sometimes a crew will come out "letting them play," only to call it tighter when those teams can't handle the extra contact. 

What I can't accept is them changing the flow of the game multiple times.  I can't stand the fact that the officials are a legitimate story after EVERY game.  Some of it is based on perception… but a lot of it is based on reality. 

What's the solution?  Add a 4th official on the floor to cover dead spots (I've made this argument before).  How the hell is Dick Bavetta expected to run up and down the floor and keep up with guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant when he can't even beat Charles Barkley in a foot race?  Throw a 4th person in there to cover the blind spots and maybe overturn a questionable call.  And maybe there's a 5th referee in a booth somewhere that can review all technical and flagrant fouls.  Maybe he's at the league office.

Bottom line:  the league needs to do something.  It's a topic that is too dominant at a time where the league should be celebrating a tremendously entertaining playoffs.  We've crossed the Rubicon.  The league can't wish this away.  Change needs to happen.

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  • Anon


  • Take out the incidental contact rule, the subjectivity needs to go. Did it affect the ball handlers quickness, balance or rhythm? Or did the ball handler pretend like it did?
    It needs to be objective, any contact is a foul aside from the Lower Box rules. Sure, the beginning of the season would be full of fouls but the players will adjust.
    With flagrants and technicals, I agree that a replay official is really the best answer.

  • I bleed green in L.A.

    More refs would just mean more calls. Maybe take one away? Or make one a head ref like in the NFL, a guy who can overturn bad calls on the court. Or shoot the ball from the top of the key…ball never lies.
    I don’t know how they fix it, but I’d rather see a physical game than a freethrow shooting contest.
    No calls or bad calls just change the momentum of the game, which in the NBA means a win or loss. Just ask the Lay-queers last night, tie game after every quarter, then the refs put away their whistle for the start of the 4th quarter and Denver got hacked every drive to the basket creating a turnover that led to Lakweers points, giving them the win. But I’m sure Denver will get the same no-calls on their homecourt too.
    The NBA, where embarassing happens.

  • The Magic deserve to be applauded for playing through the pathetic officiating in there series against LeBron, and are a shining example of what every team should do, shut up and play no matter what the officals do
    The refs were god awful in last nights lakers game, just putrid…are you letting them play, or not? are you letting the lakers play, and not the nuggets, what are you doing?
    The nugs were up 7 midway through the 3rd when the officals took over the game, and in doing so the series……pathetic…but the nugs gotta play through it instead of complaining

  • I like the 4th ref idea. Maybe have one ref permanently on each end with the two side refs moving with the ball?

  • Love Rubicon ref for those that don’t know Roman law prohibited the Rubicon from being crossed by any Roman Army or Redsarmy legion

  • That’s a great idea. Part of the problem is that one ref is in the mood to let guys play down there… then another rotates down, and there’s a different set of rules.
    I don’t think a 4th ref will result in more calls. I think it will result in consistent calls.

  • There’s only one way to stop the bad officiating: send someone in undercover. I volunteer you hear me..???!

  • Tommy from Indiana

    IN the words of the great Bill Walton a 4th official would be a hoorrrribbble idea. I have never seen a good officiated game with 3 refs go back to 2 and te flow would be so much better. They need to start penalizing the flops as well. Vlade Divac is still ruining the nba how is this possible

  • In my mind, we can’t say ‘let them play’ or ‘not let them play’.. that is the very crux of the problem. You can’t let the ref chose whether to let them or not.
    The problem is “they’ve let them” carry/palm the ball, “they’ve let them” make contact “they’ve let them” fake fouls, “let them” take an extra step for so long that there is no dependable definition of the rules.. it’s all subjective or depending on which ‘mood’ they are in as previously stated. The only way to fix that part of it is to define the rule and stick to it. Maybe the palm ball rule or the contact rule need to change, ok, change it and adhere to it.
    But the more we say “let them play”, the more we perpetuate the problem.
    Extra official for the flagrants and Ts only.

  • lol @ shooting for it. That would be amazing.

  • Interesting that the photo accompanying this piece is of Bennett “Head Up My Ass” Salvatore, author of the worst call in NBA history last spring.
    Game 6, ECF finals in Detroit, offensive foul on Pierce when a defender bites on an up-fake from behind the arc.
    I have no clue how Bennett still has a job in the association.

  • i had an interesting thought, it was that in a weak draft this year there are around 5 guys i would pick that i would rather have coming off the bench next year than bill walker, jr giddens, and gabe pruitt, and thats just guys that are projected to go late in the second round. if i was danny i would be looking to unload those guys if at all possible and try to move up this year to get a player with some potential that could help immediately
    here are some guys that i would look at that we may be able to trade up for that would fit better with our team than our current youngsters
    1. Chase Budinger 6’8 forward out of Arizona, he is big, athletic, and can shoot the three, plus he has tons of potential, is a true big small forward that we need coming off the bench, only question is his defense
    2. Nick Calethes 6’5 shooting guard/point guard out of florida, this guy is perfect to come in off the bench with eddie house, he can handle the point and guard the 2 while eddie plays shooting guard and still gets to match up with the other teams smaller point, plus nick can shoot too
    3. Jonas Jerenbenko 6’8 forward from Sweden, supposedly a defensive stopper who can stroke the three, some guy from bleachers contemplated whether he could be the next James Posey, any way im all for a big small forward who plays great D, and can shoot threes
    4. Danny Green 6’6 from UNC, can shoot the three and D up, has championship experience, in my mind has better play right away potential than giddens or walker
    5. AJ Price Point from UCONN, pruitt hasnt shown that he can play point, and he hasnt proved to be a knockdown shooter like he was supposed to be either , bottom line is i would rather have aj, battle tested in the big east, running the second unit than gabe

  • 11rings

    I remember that play. Unbelievable. Not getting the call on those plays has happened to Pierce recently and is ridiculous but calling an offensive foul when the defender bumps into the shooter after leaving his feet is just unbelievable.

  • alex

    Lakers 11-0 run? CB7 turnovers? And your saying the offical took over the game? How about Danhtay Jones tripping Kobe? Lane violation on JR Smith? even after that Ariza got push. If Joakim Noah did that in the first series, you would be bitching.

  • I have asked the same question.

  • Joey Crawford

    Chase Budinger? Really? He’s a volleyball player pretending to be a small forward. Potential? Skywalker’s only 8 months older than Chase…Bill’s got just as much potential.
    Given Docs reluctance to play the rookies, what makes you think a Jonas Jerenbenko or Nick Calethes would come in and get serious burn next year?

  • Im sure he did it plenty in that series bud…Old news
    yeah, the officials took over that ganme…good day bud