The problem with the NBA

28 05 2008

NBAIn my opinion, the biggest problem with the NBA is the subjectivity of the referees.  This was on full display last night in game 4 of the Lakers vs. Spurs Western Conference finals series.  Brent Barry got the ball with just a couple seconds left, pump faked and got Derek Fisher to bite and jump into the air.  As Fisher came down, there was obvious contact between him and Barry.  Barry’s mistake was in seemingly trying to avoid contact instead of leaning into Fisher which would have almost certainly forced the ref to blow the whistle.  But, since he appeared to try to elude contact, the ref opted for the non-call.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not a Spurs apologist.  In fact the best thing about this series is that either the Lakers or the Spurs are going to lose!

But, this play just illustrates what is in my opinion the biggest problem that the NBA has.  There is just too much subjectivity on the part of the officials.  They call the game based on the context of the game.  There is something inehently wrong with that.  In other words, early in the game, the contact between Fisher and Barry would have almost certainly been a foul, but at this point, in this context, it was not.  It’s either a foul or it’s not a foul….right?  Apparently not.

And, this modus operandi is just commonly accepted among everyone associated with the game including players, coaches, analysts, beat writers, broadcasters, etc etc…

On every single possession, there is one or more calls that could be made and it is left entirely up to the three officials on the court to make a subjective decision on whether or not to blow the whistle.

One classic situation that happens all the time in the NBA is the late whistle foul.  In this situation, a player drives to the basket and takes some contact in the act of shooting a lay-up.  The ball bounces around the rim and eventually falls out.  It isn’t until that point that the referee blows the whistle.  Clearly, the referee is waiting to see if the ball went before making the decision to blow the whistle.  So, if the ball had gone in, this would not have been a foul, but since it bouced out, the whistle blows.  This situation drives me insane everytime I see it.  Do they think we are idiots?  Either it’s a foul or it’s not a foul.  Whether or not the ball goes through the basket should not make any difference.  But, everyone knows that it does.  And, we all just accept this as part of the game.

So, what can be done to address this problem?  Well, that’s why it is the NBA’s biggest problem in my opinion…because there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it.  It will constantly lead to consipiracy theories, to outcomes such as last night’s game where the ref basically dictated the result, to star players getting the benefit of the doubt calls, to rookies getting the rookie calls, to floppers, to whiney players, to dirty players (ie – Ginoble, Duncan, Bowen, and oh yeah….Derek Fisher), etc etc.

So, what am I trying to say?  Well, mostly that I love the NBA, but I hate this aspect of it and it frustrates me to no end season after season.





Greatest moment in Mavs history

5 05 2008

What is the greatest moment in Dallas Mavericks history?  Well, it is pictured to the right.

When that moment happened 2 years ago, I thought the Mavs were on their way to winning a championship.  Honestly, I thought that they would be contenders for a title for several years to come.  For those of you non-sportsnuts like myself, Dirk made a 3-point play (See Ginoble’s foul there?) to push Game 7 to OverTime and an eventual win going away on the Spurs homecourt.

Boy, how times change.  They end up beating Phoenix that year in the conference championship series and then go up 2-0 in the Finals to Miami.  Then, they choke it all away.

Then they fool us all again, winning 67 games in the regular season the next season and locking up the #1 overall seed in the playoffs.  Then comes Golden State.  Another huge embarrassing collapse.

I remember reading Jerry Stackhouse’s quote at the beginning of this year.  To paraphrase, “Either going to the finals was a fluke or getting knocked out in the first round was a fluke, this year we will find out”.  Well, I think he was right.  We all found out. 

Dirk said last week, “For me, personally, I feel like it’s another wasted year”.  I feel exactly the same way as Dirk.

As a die-hard Mavs fan, I don’t have a lot to put my hope in either.  I think they do have some flexibility in their roster that might give them the ability to make a deal or two in the off-season.  But, I am not sure I see anything that can put them back to an elite contender status right away.  Maybe I am just a glass is half empty kind of guy, but I definitely need something big to happen to renew my excitement and get me out of this funk. 

And, hiring Rick Carlisle is not exactly what I am talking about.  I think he will be fine, but he doesn’t make me excited again.  I need to see something big.  And, I just don’t see what it could be.  But, I hope that Cuban and Little Nellie can come up with something to renew my excitement in a team that had me so caught up in excitement this time two years ago that I could hardly stand it.

Please, Sports Gods, please make things right for the Mavs.  They were the worst franchise in all of sports in the 90s and they got exactly zero #1 overall picks to show for it and only one in the top 3.  Meanwhile, the Spurs got two #1 overall picks exactly ten years apart (David Robinson and Tim Duncan).  They have 4 titles to show for that.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Which brings me back to the greatest moment in Mavs history.  When that moment happened, I thought for sure, it wouldn’t be their greatest moment for very long.  Now, it really looks like I am going to have to wait awhile for something better.  As a Mavs fan, I guess I should be getting good at waiting…