After the wire-to-wire shellacking the Cavs issued to the Celtics last night, there is nothing redeeming to take away from the game. Before we get to the meat of this post let's make one thing clear: The Celtics did not lose this game because of the officiating. Despite what you might think, the Celtics lost this game because they didn't even bother to show up. When the Cavs are coasting to the basket and easily scoring on 31 of their first 37 possessions and shooting well over 60% for the game, even Tim Donaghy can't be blamed.
According to the NBA's official rule book, a "Flagrant 1" is outlined as follows: Flagrant 1 is unnecessary contact. This is usually when a defensive player swings and makes hard contact with the offensive player or makes hard contact and then follows through.
Jay's Argument: In the video evidence below, Perk's foul on LeBron clearly fits the technical terms of the rule. Beyond that, from my vantage point, Perk is obviosuly going for LeBron's upper body/head area and when he realizes this, he seems to go after the ball in a "Oh sh** I need to get my hand on the ball to make it not so blatant" type of attempt. Watch the Celtics' possession just priorto Perk's foul. Pierce gets hacked a few times by some gang combination of Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison, then Shaq finishes him off. Yet, nothing was called. My guess is that Perk was sticking up for his captain and decided to take it out on LeBron.
Listen, I LOVE this type of foul. I LOVE this style of play. The 2008 Celtics were the epitome of practicing the "NO LAY-UPS" School of Basketball Law. If this were the 1980's or even the pre-1990's Pat Riley New York Knicks, this would have been a nice, clean, hard playoff foul. Unfortunately due to a combination of the "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons, Pat Riley's brutal New York Knicks, and the Malice at the Palace starring Ron Artest, well these fouls are now deemed as flagrant.
Kevin McHale once walked through the doors at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles and clotheslined Kurt Rambis. He did it Jimmy Superfly Snuka style no less. Yet it was just a foul. No flagrant, no suspension. Those days are long gone and the only point I'm making is that by today's NBA Country Club standards, Perk's foul on LeBron WAS correctly called. On a side note however, check out the second video and please explain to me how that call on KG was really a foul. That was his second of the game at that point and took him out of the game early.
The officiating in the first quarter was about as bad as it could get. Cleveland was getting EVERY call and the Celtics were getting NOTHING. That KG foul was ridiculous, especially when you consider what happened to Paul in the first video.
BUT… There's now way in hell that's a flagrant foul on Kendrick Perkins. Yes, Perkins intended to foul LeBron. That was a "earn your 2 points" kinda foul. He made sure to go for the ball… the ball just happened to be near his face. LeBron never went to the ground, there was no swinging of the arms, and there was no intent to do anything besides foul and prevent the shot.
And yea, some of my argument is a result of me thinking the NBA is turning into a pussy league where just fouling someone could result in a flagrant. And maybe I'm just not thrilled with the fact that Bennett Salvatore used the occasion to put on a rendition of the "Bennett Salvatore" show (ooooh… he's SOOOO demonstrative when telling the official scorer it's 2 shots. Jeez… next time, just look directly into the camera, Bennett and spare us the pretense).
But these officials need to make a determination between hard foul and flagrant foul. And if they can't tell the difference, then get them off the goddam court because anyone who knows basketball knows there's a difference.
That, my friends, was a hard foul. That was not flagrant. I'm hoping the league takes a close look at it and at least rescinds the call… even though it had a huge impact on the flow of the game.