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:
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:
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.