[Photo credit: Barry Tse's Flickr page]
In ESPN's latest piece on the current state of officiating, old friend Kevin McHale has some less-than-enthusiastic thoughts on the direction of referees in today's NBA.
Now an analyst for NBA-TV, McHale said the current officiating system, with its computerized oversight, has "roboticized" this latest breed of NBA referees, rendering them either unwilling or unable to practice what McHale describes as the lost art of letting some fouls go in order to protect the flow of the game.
"Nobody goes to a game to watch 500 whistles," McHale said. "I just wish they'd let them play a little bit more in the paint, and not call the ticky-tack stuff out front."
Stern rejects the notion of independence from the rule book."That's not a methodology for inspiring confidence in your coaches and players," he said.
I find myself in semi-agreement with Kevin. True, no one likes watching a whistle-heavy game. But Stern has a point. Those games in which teams spend the first quarter figuring out what exactly constitutes a foul or travel can be just as frustrating — especially if the rules change for the 4th quarter, as they so often do.
I'm mostly encouraged to see that the NBA is taking officiating seriously. Between the clamp down on player complaints and what seems to be a more accountable system of official criticism and instruction, it seems that they're headed in the right direction. Now if only they can teach Dwyane Wade what constitutes a carry.
The rest of the piece is quite good. It's about the man Stern tapped to turn around officiating post-Donaghy. Data analysis, the military, "super observers" — there's a lot in it. It's worth a read.