June 01, 2002

What's the difference between the WWF and NBA? :

The WWF admits that it's fixed. And its refs are better.

Honestly, I love the NBA, but tonight's officiating was ridiculous. How does Kobe get away with a forearm shiver to the face directly in front of the ref?? Was Triple H distracting him from outside the ring? Did he get laid out with a steel chair?

But what about Boston? (more inside)

posted by Conquistador to basketball at 12:25 AM - 15 comments

More from Conquistador (I moved this part off the front page): Where were the "home court calls" tonight, and where were they in Game 4? Meanwhile, the Nets got EVERY significant call after the Celtics erased NJ's 20-point halftime lead in Game 5 in New Jersey. For the last three games, the refs just let the Nets run underneath the Celtics for charges. And it worked everytime. Erick Strickland, who only took about 40 charges this season and is one of the best in the league at the tactic, tries it in late in the fourth, and gets called for a block.Martin and Jefferson were just bearhugging Pierce and Walker every time down the floor. Yet the slightest touch at the other end got a whistle. So Steve Javie goes and threatens to throw a courtside fan out of a $500 seat because he's screaming at him? Astonishing. Rather than let the players decide the game, the refs put the fix in. The NBA wants a New York-LA final, or the closest thing they can get. And they continue to get away with it because the only people who care like me just keep coming back to watch anyway...

posted by rcade at 06:54 AM on June 01, 2002

I don't know about the "fix" in the Nets-Celtics series. (Of course with the Lakers it's a different story.) Do you really think the Nets were preferred over the Celtics? How incredible would it have been to have a Lakers-Celtics final? NBC would have been playing old clips over and over again to promo the finals. Old Lakers and Celtics players would have been interviewed, etc. I think the conspiracy theory is suspect on this one. (Disclosure: I was rooting for the Nets.)

posted by jacknose at 08:51 AM on June 01, 2002

I agree that the reffing was terrible, but I hate it when people start spouting off about these conspiracy theories. If they ever did this and they were caught it would be the end of the NBA. Think about the ice skating scandle x100. Think about what Boston's franchise would do. The ramifications of that sort of thing would be felt for years, the integrity of the game forever damaged. It would be impossible to forget. Etc. etc. etc. I'm in New Jersey and I could care less about the Nets. I'm not a big basketball fan, but everyone I know who is, is a Knicks fan. The Nets have had significant trouble selling out their stadium in the playoffs. The NBA has no business wanting that franchise in the final. Boston, its history, die-hard fan base and recent rivalry with L.A. make for a much more attractive opponent. I just started thinking about this one watching the Laker game last night. Reffing basketball is hard. It's like juding NFL pass interference every time down the court for each of the five match-ups. Nearly every play at the NBA level could be called a foul. Some would be soft calls, some more obvious. Players fly around at heights and speeds that make it tough to judge calls on replays. I Tivo'ed a Kobe shot last night that Bibby got called for a foul on. Bibby didn't touch him. Not a fingernail and yet he was called. But you know what? It wasn't a conspiracy, it was just impossible to tell that he didn't touch him. It sure as hell looked like a foul and I watched it six or seven times. And what about Shaq? For all the crap, and I don't really like the guy, he gets hammered every time the ball is in his hands. He deserves two dozen more calls every game. Also, that fan was way out of line. He came out of his seat, on the court and into the refs face??? Screw how much his seats cost, that ref had every right to call security over. And to my knowledge he didn't throw him out. Seems reasonable to me. The moral of the story is that the refs were terrible. That alone doesn't make it a conspiracy. NBA basketball is hard to officiate. All four teams that played last night could make a Mike Millbury video.

posted by 86 at 08:57 AM on June 01, 2002

The problem is, when a good player or team goes up for a shot, or is driving the lane, refs will just assume there is a foul. It happens all the time. Last night, Scott Pollard didn't touch Shaq on a few of the fouls. Oh well. The refs assume he's getting hacked, and so instead of watching his feet for TRAVELING, they are just looking for fouls. And what was the deal with the Kobe elbow to Bibby's face? They didn't call that. I think Sacramento is going to get a fair shake from the refs (or maybe unfair for LA) and win on Sunday. Good post Conquistador.

posted by insomnyuk at 11:00 AM on June 01, 2002

I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories, but I understand your pain Conquistador. The thing I had to keep reminding myself all playoffs (and all year) was that it's probably just as bad from the other team's perspective too. Given that, Jason Kidd could dance a jig in front of a player and still draw a charge, while Erik Strickland, who is at least as good at drawing offensive fouls, couldn't catch a break. The problem isn't bias toward one team or another, it's the refs unbelievable bias toward most star players. It was hard to watch the Celts this year against the Raptors or the 76ers. Carter and Iverson get bailed out of every dumb drive to the basket. Adding to my (and Conquistador's) pain is the fact that Paul Pierce was dumb enough to claim in print at the start of the season that he could draw a foul whenever he wanted to. The refs have spent the year showing him that's not the case. The WWE (WWF) comparison is a good one. I've been trying all season to think of another sport with the quality of refereeing as the NBA.

posted by yerfatma at 12:03 PM on June 01, 2002

Oh and no matter where the game was played, I hate front-row fans who think people are interested in their opinions. That clown from Game 6 should be locked in a box with the fat guy from the end of the first row in Jersey and the clown in the middle of the front row from Jersey who never stopped yapping on his cellphone even when he stood up and put his hand above his head (the other one being busy at the time).

posted by yerfatma at 12:05 PM on June 01, 2002

The Nets-Celtics series wasn't offensive; even though I was rooting for the Celtics, they lost fair and square. No ref'ing in the world kept Walker and Pierce to 3 points in the 4th, or made Antoine Walker stupidly keep hoisting up ill-planned 3's with no green jersey under the basket for the rebound (what, did Walker suddenly forget about driving in and kicking it out to the perimeter- which is how you're supposed to get open 3 pointers?). O'brien sat Walker before the game ended, it was so bad- they were still within 4 or so when he sat him. No, the thread before this one, about Sacramento-LA, is the one we all should be talking about. From the article: With 12 seconds left, Bryant dropped Bibby to the ground with an apparently inadvertent elbow to the point guard's face on an inbounds play. Bibby's nose wasn't broken. Apparently inadvertent- that's being polite! A guy doesn't possess the coordination and physical skills to make spinning dunks above the rim, then suddenly forearm someone directly to the face "inadvertently". It was patently disgusting- Kobe's forearm to Bibby in plain, bloody view of the refs and the camera without a call was insane: that play alone should have been an offensive foul with the Kings shooting two to potentially take a one point lead with 12 seconds left. Instead, Kobe ends up getting fouled because the Kings have to stop the clock and gets to take two shots to put the Lakers up 3- plus the Kings had to waste their last timeout to get Bibby to stop bleeding, which means they can't stop to plan a 3 point attempt to tie it in their last possession. Huge call, one of many blunders in the game. Pollard, Divac, Webber- the Kings were getting royally reamed all game by the refs. My friend turned it off with a minute left, saying it was the worst officiated game he'd ever seen: even Bill Walton, an unabashed Laker booster, was consistently saying with that Walton sneer, "That's a TERRIBLE call". I don't think it's a conspiracy, but I do think the refs phoned this one in, deferring way to much to the defending champions as if they could do no wrong.

posted by hincandenza at 05:18 PM on June 01, 2002

The Kobe Bryant non-call was atrocious. It definitely should have been a foul on Bryant, maybe even a flagrant foul, and Shaq should have had a flagrant foul for throwing Funderburke (I think) to the floor. Meanwhile, the Kings got called for having the Lakers run into them, or for not even touching a Laker player. Pollard's last two fouls, and Divac's last foul, were pathetic calls--and isn't it a tradition that the sixth foul has to be blatantly obvious, especially in a playoff game? My usual philosophy is that a championship-level team will play through officiating mistakes, but the refs in the Lakers-Kings game were incompetant at best. The Lakers took more free throws in the fourth quarter than they averaged in all of the previous games. Still, the Kings had an off night shooting (especially in the first quarter), and still would have beaten the Lakers despite excellent games from Kobe and Shaq, if not for the officiating. I like their chances in Game 7.

posted by kirkaracha at 06:24 PM on June 01, 2002

Antoine Walker stupidly keep hoisting up ill-planned 3's with no green jersey under the basket for the rebound Sorry, but I watched the Celts all year, and that's what got them there. O'Brien made a point of defending that behavior mid-season. It's frustrating when it isn't working, but it's their game plan.

posted by yerfatma at 10:13 PM on June 01, 2002

Shooting 3's is fine- but shooting 3's at the start of the possession is silly. A forward who can hit the 3 is fine, but he should be doing it as part of a series of passes, penetrate in with Pierce, or Anderson, or someone- then kick out to an open Walker to nail the dagger-like 3 pointer. Walker shooting the 3 all by his lonesome, with a defender in his face, never is a good game plan.

posted by hincandenza at 12:33 AM on June 02, 2002

The common occurrance of subjective calls in the NBA Playoffs affecting the outcome of the game have driven me away from watching this year. Aldrige has a pretty good article regarding the perception of the ref fix. I think this whole issue becomes more of a focus with Shaq involved, because his game is about brute strength, and the only way that strength is contained is how the refs decide to call the game. Similar to holding in the NFL, you could call an offensive foul on Shaq nearly every trip down the floor, but he is just playing his advantage. Either way, the my cynical side was rooting for a Kings v. Nets series, to not only reward historically dismal franchises for turning things around, but to watch the little veins pop out on the foreheads of the NBC Sports execs, as they add up the viewership difference for Sacramento and NJ versus LA and Boston finals.

posted by zombywoof at 09:52 AM on June 03, 2002

zombywoof, thanks for the article/link (a nice addition to this thread). I have a question. You write, "you could call an offensive foul on Shaq nearly every trip down the floor." Don't you think that you could also call a defensive foul on the person who is guarding Shaq nearly every time? (Now, mind you, I was rooting for the Kings.) It seems to me that on almost every shot Shaq is pushed or slapped on the arm. I think Shaq just accepts that he is going to be hacked every time and has learned to shoot through it. I agree that the problematic issue with Shaq is his "brute strength" and how one contains it (whether you're playing defense or you're a referee).

posted by jacknose at 10:06 AM on June 03, 2002

Yes, shaq is fouled a hell of a lot, but what i want to know, is when did he start making free throws at the ends of games? His shot looks terrible yet it seems to end up going in most of the time in the 4th quarter!

posted by corpse at 10:42 AM on June 03, 2002

True. Ugly, but efficient. It reminds me of that carnival game where you try to shoot a ping pong ball into one of those many glasses of water. You wrap your big hands and fingers around a tiny ball and try to toss into a glass with as much delicacy as possible. You have to give Shaq credit.

posted by jacknose at 11:08 AM on June 03, 2002

jacknose, I agree that fouls when Shaq has the ball are basically are ignored and he does get hacked a lot. I like Shaq, and respect his game more lately since he does show better touch on turn arounds and such, but I also think a lot of the hacking on him is in response to his movement without the ball. I would argue that often (but not always) by the time Shaq is getting haqed on the shot, the ref already ignored a steamroller move that Shaq used to get into postion for the shot. Shaq isn't getting hacked on 15 ft jumpers in the key, defenders are swiping at him as he dumps in a bunny from 3 feet or less. But in order to get that close, Shaq uses his bulk to clear the space. That scenario is more of what I was thinking of when saying Shaq could get called for o-fouls. He is so strong that if he wants to get low on the blocks, he can brush aside defenders in the spot he wants to occupy like pushing tall grass out of the way on a walk through a meadow. of course I don't think Shaq is totally one dimensional. He has amazingly quick feet for someone so large, and is really pretty nimble. And he does take a lot of unnecessary slaps from fools who have no other idea on how to actually guard him.

posted by zombywoof at 11:39 AM on June 04, 2002

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