Refs Doing A Good Job In Playoffs: Did Fans Help Make It Happen? | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Refs Doing A Good Job In Playoffs: Did Fans Help Make It Happen?

by DRJ

With the single exception of Cavs game 3, the referees have been calling
the Celtics' playoff games reasonably fairly. Oh, they make mistakes
and always will, but on balance, there has been no evident bias (except
that one time). Those of us who have suffered in the NBA long enough
recognize how unusual this is. Why is it happening? Here's a 2-part

Part 1:
Every large enterprise today is online, obviously. They all read what
their customers say about them, most especially on blogs and social
networking sites. The NBA is no exception. After every game where the
refs appeared to be biased – and especially after the Celtics-Cavs game 3
– many fans complained bitterly about the refereeing. I personally
accused them of clear and obvious bias, at least in that first quarter.
And I said that if I got the impression that the referees stole a series
from the Celtics, I would abandon the NBA forever. Much as it
would pain me to leave my Cs, I meant it. I also said then that though
the NBA couldn't possibly care what one individual does – it will care
very much when that person is multiplied by tens of thousands of other
disgusted fans.

I think these feelings were duplicated in various places on the Web. And
the NBA saw it. And the league by now must realize the obvious truth of
this matter: there is nothing the refs can do to steal a game that
we fans will not see
. We all have DVRs, we have slow-motion replays,

Altogether then, this theory holds that the NBA was led to instruct
their referees to call every game as fairly as possible as a result, at
least in part, of the complaints raised by fans. 'No screwing around
anymore,' they told the refs. Not when every playoff game (particularly
in these final stages) is being broadcast across the nation and around
the world. Too risky.

And so we have had, except for that one Cavs game, a run of fairly
officiated games. We must not underestimate the value of that. Besides
completely changing the experience of watching a game from excruciating
to enjoyable (yes, REGARDLESS of outcome), it is absolutely VITAL for
the Celtics, in particular, to play in fairly officiated games – 
because the Cs’ brand of basketball makes them exquisitely sensitive to
referee misconduct. (That's caused by the Cs’ reliance on hard-nosed
defense. If/when the refs start calling BS ticky-tack fouls, the Cs
often very quickly lose their way.)

Part 2:

The Cs have, beginning with Cavs game 2, decided to foul early and hard
rather than allow easy baskets. As pointed out in a prior article (April
5), one of this strategy's several advantages is that it can help
control the refs’ tendency to start calling ticky-tack fouls during the
game, because the Cs are committing HARD fouls – early and brazenly – so
there's no opening for the refs to “set a tone” in the game: the Cs
have already set it.

What can we learn from this? We cannot help the Cs with Part 2; that's
their job. But we can with Part 1. If it should ever happen again that
the refs are clearly biased in a game, we must NEVER HESITATE to call
them out
on it. Openly, and loudly. The message will not go
unnoticed. (And even if you believe it might – so what? We have much to
gain and NOTHING to lose by telling the truth as we see it.)

The biggest mistake we can make is to keep quiet and “take it like men”
because "that's the way the game is played." Real men (and women) don't
accept abuse quietly. We must ALWAYS fight back as best we can – and the
best tool we have to fight with is the Internet. And free speech. Just tell
the truth
. (As we all know, our team can't do this without getting
fined by the league.) Do Not Exaggerate… but also, do not gloss over
or make excuses. Just tell it like you see it. In that way, we do our
bit to keep these games fair.

And that's all the Celtics need. Give them a fair shot…. and get out
of their way. Because they have no intention of stopping before they win
it all this year.

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  • Uncle Leo

    “…because the Cs’ brand of basketball makes them exquisitely sensitive to referee misconduct.”
    There is a balance that is impossible to achieve when refereeing an NBA game. People screaming “let them play” and other people screaming for fouls. Which is the better? That is for the individual to decide. There are pro’s and con’s for each style but I’m sure most people would want the game called as close to the rules as possible. The celtics foul…a lot, and many of those fouls are hard to spot because they are done using techniques that make them hard to spot. Remember when Tony held down Mo Williams during the regular season game when he was going for an offensive rebound? The play where Mike Brown was tossed out? So what you call fairly officiated, another person might think the amount of non-calls heavily favor the Celtics. You have to factor in the amount of non-calls a defensive team like the Celts get just as much as the amount of favorable calls a more offensively aggressive team would get before you start talking about nba referee illuminati conspiracy theories.
    It’s just kind of funny how ridiculous some fans get when they think the refs are out to get their team for some reason, makes no sense – especially celtic fans. I mean come on this franchise has more than 1/4 of all NBA championships, if anything it’s the other guys who should be suspicious.

  • Lakerhater (FD)

    Did Mikey ghost write part 2?
    I do agree with your conclusions DRJ, overall a pretty good analysis. Until Stern is gone it will be pretty tough to clean up the officiating.

  • DRJ

    Some fans do get ridiculous, clearly. On the other hand, some games are stolen, also clearly. It is hard to KNOW what’s what… but I do KNOW that the refs have screwed us, and most other teams, in the past.
    If the refs decided to call every REAL foul in these playoffs, I would not consider that stealing… as you say, I’d consider that their judgment. What we cannot accept is for Paul and Rondo to get HAMMERED on one end with no calls, while every little touch is called on the other. And we’ve seen that happen. But not lately… other than Cavs game 3, not in these playoffs.
    I wonder how much that has to do with the way the Cs are fouling hard and early, vs. the league getting wise to the fans level of disgust, vs. some other reason. That’s what this piece was about, anyway.

  • Double P Reppin the B

    I just think that the refs are how they always have been. Gonna get it right sometimes and get it wrong sometimes. No way around that the game is to fast to get EVERYTHING right. Just be consistent. and there is NO biased against one specific team I think that is just an untrue conclusion.

  • mollysdaddy

    Is it really a good idea for borderline conspiracy theorists to be so full of themselves? You are writing an article on the idea that Stern and the NBA officails are actively trying to steer games in favor of Celtics opponents, a theory that, to my knowledge, has never been substantiated. And now you are adding to that the idea that after successfully screwing the Celtics for decades, Stern and Co. have suddenly decided to call it quits because fans are complaining. I would speculate that for the entire history of, at least, American sports, fans have complained bad officiating has effected their teams ability to win games. But perhaps us Celtics fans and our bitching carries more weight than other fans.

  • DRJ

    You know, I almost didn’t send this article in, because I figured there’d be people who would skim it and immediately make all the wrong assumptions and come to all the wrong conclusions… and I didn’t feel like battling that right now.
    But, since you insist on misconstruing and misreading EVERYTHING I actually wrote, let me help disabuse you (or try, anyway).
    Nowhere does this article say that refs are “actively trying to steer games in favor of Celtics opponents”. In fact, when that point came up in the comments, you will see in my response (first comment here) that I said that refs in the past have stolen games from MOST teams in the NBA at one time or another. I have not said that this happens all the time, or even often. Just that it happens. If you think that it NEVER happens… well, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
    “Never been substantiated?” Yes, it’s true that Stern has never said “I’ve fixed games.” He’s not interested in the perk walk. But there have been many games that are generally acknowledged as having been stolen by the referees. The most famous is Game 6 of the 2002 playoffs between the Lakers and Kings, which just about everyone now understands was manipulated by the referees in a most blatant manner in order to swing the result in LA’s favor.
    Furthermore, if you understood from (not) reading this article that I said that Stern reacted only to OUR complaints about the Celtics — then once again, you are sadly mistaken. What I explained very clearly — over 2-3 paragraphs — was the theory that the NBA responds to its customers like all business enterprises, and that the GENERAL hue and cry over poorly officiated games — maximized when bias is blatant — could have led the league to change its ways. This effect was made possible by the advent of DVRs and slow-motion replays, enabling every fan to see every error the refs make, and by the Internet, which magnifies the collective voice of the fans.
    At SOME point, the NBA MUST recognize this. The fact that we have had a mostly clean postseason so far, plus the fact that there have been FOUR sweeps already in these playoff — which costs the league many millions of dollars — is evidence that something has changed, and/or is changing, in the NBA. (Finally!) All this is GOOD news, btw.
    The reference to our Cavs game 3 was an example of going from the specific to the general. (Do you understand that concept? If not, please look it up.)
    But enough of trying to explain this to you. Clearly, you are a moron… or you would not have posted in black and white such a thoroughly misinformed comment.
    I would just laugh this off and forget about it if not for the sad fact that it is fools like you who have helped ruin the game for everyone. If you believe Donaghy was the ONLY ref in history who ever gambled on a game, and that ONLY the games he described were EVER stolen by the refs… and that now ALL NBA games are equally and fairly officiated… well… then you should have yourself checked for borderline psychosis. But in fairness, that last advice assumes you have actually watched a significant number of games… if you have not, then you don’t need to be psychotic to make this mistake, it’s possible that you are simply stupid. The problem is that your psychosis and/or stupidity only helps PROLONG the bad aspects of the NBA, and delay its reform.
    But, luckily, it seems that reform has already arrived. Hopefully, it’s too late for guys like you to screw it up.
    Next time, please READ the posts you comment on.

  • Scott

    I find it a little ridiculous to think that we as fans influenced the officiating. That is all.

  • 00dc2

    did you watch suns lakers game 1? lakers got all the calls.. kobe gets royal treatment

  • Shawn-cvd

    Wow DrJ tell him how you really feel!

  • DRJ

    Not all that serious 🙂
    …just the accumulated frustration of all the nonsense I’ve heard over these months, esp on another blog. This piece is just a theory… but my track record lately on “theories” is pretty damn good… and I think there’s at least some truth here. At least something to think about. Certainly, I expect the guy to friggin READ it if he’s gonna write about it.
    This was why I hesitated sending this one in. Anyway…. it’s all BS at the moment… Game 2 is all that matters right now!

  • DRJ

    Maybe. It’s a theory.
    At some point, the NBA must listen to its fans. In every NBA blog out there there have been major complaints about the refs. I don’t think they just ignore all that… that would be too stupid, even for them. And they can’t ignore the fact that we all see every tiny mistake the refs make now. These are big changes in the reality of the NBA… it’s gotta accomodate them sometime. Given that we’ve seen 4 sweeps already this season… maybe that time has come.

  • DRJ

    I’m just happy that they’ve let the Cs play their game. We haven’t seen too many of their ridiculous calls since Cavs game 3…. certainly nothing that adds up to bias. Cs can’t win without that. So… I’m very happy about it!

  • “Altogether then, this theory holds that the NBA was led to instruct their referees to call every game as fairly as possible as a result, at least in part, of the complaints raised by fans. ‘No screwing around anymore,’ they told the refs. Not when every playoff game (particularly in these final stages) is being broadcast across the nation and around the world. Too risky.”
    This paragraph is exactly what my comment was about.
    By assuming that the NBA “instructed” the Refs to call every game as fairly as possible, starting now, implies that you believe until now the NBA (and you still have not explained who the “NBA” is, if not Stern then who?) have not cared about their product being fairly officiated. This implicates the NBA as either universally not caring about it’s teams, or (and since you base a lot of your argument on the intelligence of the NBA’s non-moronic fans), the NBA (again, who exactly is the NBA who is pulling the Ref’s strings?) plays favorites because clearly there are teams that always get the benefit of the refs.
    I’m sorry but these are the ideas your article implies. I’m not quite so sure why your reply was one based so strongly on your feeling supremely more intelligent. Perhaps there is something to the idea you are a little full of yourself on this topic?
    And since this is a Celtics blog and you have been a proponent of “the refs screwed the Celtics” in the past I naively implied that you had a Celtics slant to this. I do apologize for thinking you were talking mainly about Celtics fans and not fans in general. But the idea still holds that if you think that the NBA just realized that they need to stop having favoritism in their league because of technology in the hands of the fans, you are crazy.
    Refs will always have flaws and fans will always be fanatic, I suppose.

  • Orb

    To your fans/internet argument, I would add the Donaghy scandal as part of the tipping point for the NBA. This made them supremely sensitive to the reffing issues, as this was BROADcast all summer (as opposed to the narrow-cast of internet blogs and comments). That’s the kind of things advertisers notice most. Also, a couple big sports columnists really got on that bandwagon too when the scandal broke. I think all these factors added together to force change.
    And I doubt that change was Stern laying down the law in a smoke-filled room as some have imagined, but as simple as what Donaghy himself talked about, namely that subtle influence in the back of the refs minds. If people with their DVRs and multiple angles are looking and expecting fraud, they’ve got to really consciously work to keep it fair.
    And PS, in your comment to mollysdaddy, I noticed a rare but excellent typo of “perk walk” instead of “perp walk.” I’ve decided to call that an “Auerbachian Slip.”

  • DRJ

    Once again you misunderstand, assume, and project your own views on what I am saying. But… better this time.
    Where have I said that the NBA “plays favorites”? That, in my view, is the senseless/paranoid version of the referee argument… that the refs are “out to get us”. I have never said that, and think it’s quite silly. (Though some here have made that case, and backed it up with some data… it still makes no sense to me.)
    The refs have been, from time to time, clearly BIASED. They have been biased in favor of different teams at different times.
    Why? I don’t know. It’s probably not a single reason. Could be gambling (a likely problem), could be direction from the league office (which is what Donaghy reported), could be personal reasons (also reported by Donaghy), or any number of things. YOU have proposed, and then projected onto the article, that the refs “play favorites”. Even though I don’t KNOW why the refs have stolen games, I am confident that it has nothing to do with “playing favorites”. That’s just too ridiculous to be true.
    But since my eyes tell me that the refs have been, from time to time, CLEARLY biased… I’m calling it the way I see it. And btw, regardless of the reasons for it, it’s fair to assume that the league has the power to make it all stop, rather than benignly neglecting the cheating (that they don’t actually direct). That they haven’t done it earlier is part of the problem.
    You want to know who exactly “the NBA” is? And how am I supposed to know that? Was that the point of the article? Why are you asking these ridiculous questions? (Never mind, I know why.)
    At least this time you seem to have actually READ the piece. Good one. I understand that you must now try to back up your prior ill-informed arguments. But really… it’s hopeless. This is a THEORY, an attempt to explain the observed fact that the referees in the NBA seem to be improving in this postseason. Fans have suffered for decades at the referees’ hands. It is their #1 complaint, in every city. The Internet spreads that dissatisfaction. Why is it “crazy” to believe that at SOME POINT the NBA would finally react to the feelings of their fans? We support their entire business.
    Or are you thinking that the league changed long ago? Huh? No, you can’t be thinking that. It’s impossible. The NBA has just BEGUN to expand the use of video, and the refs were still manipulating games in this past regular season. Hell, they did it in our Cavs game 3… (though just for a quarter or so).
    No… the change MAY be starting to happen right now. Not like a switch, but as a process. It had to come sometime, and hopefully that time is now. The evidence is pretty good — not only from the Cs’ experience, but also the fact that we’ve seen 4 sweeps already, which costs the league many millions of dollars.
    I knew a lot of people would misconstrue this one. Oh well. I’m happy that you at least read the piece this time.
    ‘Sides… game 2 is on today, and, assuming the refs will continue calling these games fairly…. we have more important things to think about now.

  • DRJ

    LOL… I saw that “perk walk” typo too, after the fact. Lol… good one. (I can just imagine people wondering ‘WTF is he talking about?’)
    Yeah, completely agree about the Donaghy effect. It clearly is part of the process. And it’s all good, all good. For the past few games, I haven’t even thought much about the refs… which not long ago was a rare thing. But it’s the way it should be, and maybe, finally, things are changing. Not sure… but could be. (4 sweeps — pretty persuasive too.)

  • Bob

    I couldn’t agree more – Stern said it clear and loud in the regular season – “This is a business. It puts food on everybody’s table. Stop yappin about the refs.” This was in response to Phil Jackson complaininh about Durant getting to the free throw line so much. Translation – if you have a Nike contract, ala, Lebron, Kobe, Durant, Wade, you will have your version of the Jordan Rules applied for you. You will stay on the court, get plenty of TV time wearing their product and we all make lots of money. Notice this has nothing to do with the game of basketball and everything to do with the business of basketball.
    I also agree that it has gotten to the point of absurdity and the fans do see it and have complained loudly and often in various online forums. I think TV stepped in and said we don’t want to alienate our viewers, lose those eyeballs on the screen, ratings go down, ad revenue goes down, so clean it up.
    It is all about the Benjamins. Lots and lots of Benjamins.

  • Q

    Wait — I’m not disagreeing with your main point– but everything except Cleveland game 3 was evenly refereed? Did nobody else watch the same Cleveland games 1 and 2 that I did? Sure, game 3 1/2 on were pretty even-handed, but what was the free throw discrepancy in games 1 and 2 again?
    Your point is actually stronger if you realize that the first two and half games were so Cleveland biased that the professional media actually sort of, almost, thought about hinting at it out loud (and there were free-throw stats to back it up).
    (But of course it’s still the NBA. In the five minutes I saw of yesterday’s third quarter, I saw Kobe plant both arms on Grant Hill’s chest and drive him backwards like a good tight end taking on a LB. Which in the NBA is a foul of course. On Grant Hill. )

  • DRJ

    Lol. I missed the Lakers game. Classic.
    But refs make mistakes… it’s always gonna happens, and it’s expected… they’re human. The bias happens when they make their mistakes on only one end, over and over in a game.
    The discrepancy in FTs in the first 2 Cavs games was more because the Cs fouled more… it was part of their plan (well, in game 2 anyway). See Part 2 of the piece.

  • mikey

    yeah but 1948-1986 & 1987-2010 are two completely different leagues.
    Celtics have only been to the finals twice since 1987, 2008 & 2010.
    If you look at the numbers the numbers show that the refs have cheated against the Celtics since 1990-91. And when you look at espn, announcers, power rankings, and how people act they all hold grudges against the Celtics.
    So if it is one team that has been cheated by the refs since 1990 it is the Celtics.

  • mikey

    numbers also show that the Cavs have been heavily favored by the refs the past 2 seasons.

  • mikey

    Mikey is happy that Celtics are winning championship.
    Mikey is not happy how refs cheated up until about 5 games ago.
    Mikey gets banned while refs cheat, then makes happy posts after Celtics win titles.

  • mikey

    Yes but there is bias in the power rankings, espn, predictions, announcers, writers, journalists, websites etc.. so to say there isn’t from the refs, well you really don’t know that information.

  • mikey

    the numbers show it though

  • mikey

    The Lakers get 1-3 calls their way per important game.
    Cavs got 8-10 calls the past two seasons.
    No other team really gets calls.

  • mikey

    Yes what I think happened was that they tried hard to cheat.
    They favor the Lakers slightly, cheat the Celtics majorly, and go all out cheating hardcore for the Cavaliers.
    Once the numbers started looking suspiscious they couldn’t do anything.
    In the Celtics/Cavs series the first 3 games were so ridiculously favored for the Cavs by the refs, that if they continued to do so the rest of the series, people would have complained if the Cavs won, so they stopped doing it because people started to catch on.
    But I tell you when I saw this stuff happening, beginning in 1987, getting heavy in 1990 all the way up until now, when I would check websites after 2005, people weren’t talking about it the right way.
    That is why I posted lots of posts.
    First I started at Celticsblog, and on 11/13/09 after the Celtics got called for 10 consecutive fouls against the Hawks in 5:38 all in the 4th Qtr, I tried to talk about it with people at Celticsblog and they banned me, and banned me again.
    That is when I knew something was up. But I was also stunned how nobody talked about it the right way.
    When the rankings, espn, announcers, tnt, nba live, experts, all show that they hold grudges against the Celtics then how would the refs get a free pass on that?
    Look people everybody ripped the Celtics all year for no reason over meaningless games where they had heart and didn’t want to destroy the Nets and Wizards at home, so the Nets & Wiz won. Celtics got ripped in 2008, 2009 & 2010.
    Just check the power rankings, check the predictions, check what the announcers say.
    Going into the 2010 playoffs the Celtics weren’t ranked any better than 12th IN ANY POWER RANKINGS AND YOU THINK PEOPLE DON’T TRY TO CHEAT AGAINST THE CELTICS!!!!
    That is ridiculous!!! This team was ranked no better than 12th!!!!! When were they EVER not in the Top 4 since the 131-92 drubbing from 2008? Never, then espn picks the Cavs 10-0? C’mon people they were obviously cheating.
    They couldn’t mask it anymore, and I ripped people left and right and stood up for this ballclub.

  • mikey

    And be honest people, we traded Eddie House, Marbury and Mikke Moore for
    Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Michael Finley the BEST 3 PLAYERS FROM THE 1995 DRAFT, AND Shelden Williams, Marquis Daniels & Nate Robinson.
    Anybody who just looks at this one fact and doesn’t think the Celtics are going to win the 2010 Championship are either.
    And there are plenty of idiots to go around but to think everybody is an idiot, c’mon people they tried to cheat and it didn’t work and the Celtics crushed them.