Officiating sporting events can be difficult, especially on the professional level. Referees are always under extreme scrutiny from fans, coaches, players, the media, league officials and even team owners. The amount of pressure they face can be insurmountable. The way that most referees deal with adversity is commendable. With that said, of all the major sports in America, the referees of the National Basketball Association are by far the worst and its commission is to blame.
We all know about the infamous brawl known as “The Malice at the Palace,” where there was and altercation between the Indian Pacers and the Detroit Pistons on November 19th 2004. That incident gave the NBA a “Black Eye” and David Stern, NBA commissioner, took extreme action and implemented two controversial rules. The first was an NBA dress code for the 2005-2006 season, which bans clothing that appeared to be of the “hip-hop culture”. The other was a “No Tolerance Rule” that the NBA enforced at the start of the 2006-2007 season. The rule allowed NBA referees to give out technical fouls to players who complain too intensively about infractions. As a result, NBA referees called 104 technical fouls in the first 50 games, resulting in seven ejections. The year before, there were only seven technical’s called in that time span. This did not sit well with teams, the media and more importantly, fans. During the second half of the season, the issuing of technical fouls declined.
Let’s face it; the officiating of games is anything but good. They make calls off anticipation, home crowd influence, poor judgment and star quality. Why is it that the popular players reap the benefit of such calls and everyone else doesn’t? Do the top-tier players really need the extra call or non-call? How many times have you seen a play where a player who is 6′10″ gets ran into by a 6′1″ player, the bigger of the two reacts as if he was ran over by Shaq and the referee blows the whistle before there’s really any contact? Some NBA referees will call unnecessary fouls on players that they’ve had some sort of conflict with. One example comes to mind, Joey Crawford’s ejection of Tim Duncan in a contest between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. Crawford ejected Duncan for laughing at him while Duncan was on the bench. Are you kidding me? It seems like Crawford was paying more attention to the sidelines than the basketball court. Can anyone explain to me what a flagrant foul is? Thanks to the NBA rule book, I know what it is, but do the NBA refs? Look at this years NBA playoffs! I’m not going to name the player but he’s arguably the best player in the league. He gets a two handed push in the back by an opposing player and he lands two feet out of bounds. The replay clearly shows that the player was not going for the ball, yet the referee calls a shooting foul. To add insult to injury, in the next game of that series, the opposing player intentionally trips up the same player and no foul was called. It took complaints from team officials to the league offices for a flagrant foul to be assessed. It’s very discouraging even to watch NBA games now with all of the inconsistencies and blatant bias that comes with officiating.
I know that the NBA is striving to protect the league’s credibility, especially with what went down with the gambling scandal that involved disgraced referee Tim Donaghy, but the NBA is trying too hard and the game is being negatively affected. The NBA is becoming a pansy league! Michael Jordan would average 60 points a game if he played now. Kevin McHale would have been banned for life if he clothes lined a player the way he did Kurt Rambis. Not to mention the Detroit Pistons, also known as the “Bad Boys”, who killed Michael Jordan in the 1980’s. The team would’ve been disbanded from the league. The irony in this, all of these happenings occurred on David Stern’s watch.
Written by Keith Madyun