By: Dan Jaillet
It has been the subject of much debate for a long time now. Do NBA referees have too much control over a game? Let me rephrase that: do NBA referees have too much control during a game in general? Being a Boston fan, you probably think that I am using this article to complain about some questionable calls during last night’s game. Trust me I am not. I will be discussing the overall state of officiating in the NBA
For starters, I think that the NBA needs referees that are not afraid to “make the call.” Oftentimes, officials are afraid to make calls that hurt the home team. This is largely due in part to the fact that they do not want be become “that guy who blew Game 7 at home for the Knicks because he made that foul call on Carmelo Anthony.” Refs need to focus on making calls as they see fit, and not worry about how fans are going to react.
I also think that officials need to think a little bit before making a call. For example, in last night’s Celtics game, Ray Allen got a technical foul called on him for being a little demonstrative with his emotions after getting a foul called on him. The officials gave him a technical foul for it. Now, I am using this example because players should be able to show emotion after they receive a foul that they disagree with, as long as they keep their actions in check. In the case of Allen, he showed that he did not like the call but he did not berate the officials or get in their faces.
One thing I think officials forget is how emotional playoff games are for players. They should allow players a little bit of a longer leash because obviously they are going to be more emotional. The stakes are higher and oftentimes, the seasons of many teams are hinging on every play. Let the teams play a little bit more, instead of blowing the whistle for every ticky-tacky foul. That is what they fans want to see. They want to see the players play physical and tough. I think not blowing the whistle as often would make the game more pure and authentic and in turn, win back fans from the older generation.
In the current NBA, the refereeing is very one-sided. This can go with point number two I suppose, but it is a little more in-depth. Officials need to stop “protecting” the star teams and players. That means stop giving teams like the Celtics, Heat and Lakers the majority of the calls. If the Heat were playing the Bobcats who do you think would win? Obviously the Heat because of the overall talent level that they posses. However, Miami and other elite teams of the NBA are “helped out” by the officials. You can see it out in the open when an elite team with lots of superstars takes on a less-talented team. The “missed” travel call that Kevin Durant may get, will be a travel for Kemba Walker. I understand that a basketball game is moving at an extremely fast pace, but when it happens 10 to 15 times a game, it is no longer a missed call. So, I guess my point is to balance the officiating and focus on making the correct call rather than making the superstars happy.
I guess the point I am trying to make with this article is that the officiating needs an overall. The Miami-Celtics game last night is just the latest example in the travesty that is NBA officiating. How can it be fixed? That I am not so sure about. However, in order to get things rolling, it starts from the top (David Stern) on down. This is a reason why so many once loyal fans have become tired of the game. If they just let the players play a bit more, hordes of fans will once again become interested in the game.