There is a long standing debate as to whether media influences our culture, or whether media simply gives society/consumers what they want. Is FOX media or MSNBC a result of polarized politics or do they polarize politics through their partisan approach to news and information?
As it applies to the Raptors, there is a belief that NBA refs (and the NBA in general) don't give the Raptors a fair shake. Mistaken late game calls (which at times have led to apologizies from the league) or questions of free throws discrepincies etc. all help build on this belief. This has led to both questions and the belief that the NBA 'has it in' for the Raptors. They are not given 'equal' treatment because they lack a star or lack the desirable market place or exciting team. The end result is a belief by some that the team should have won more games, is better than their record, or even so far as believing the team will never be able to reach into the upper echelons of the NBA.
This isn't a new thing. Its existed in some fashion since the Alvin 'pedophile' Roberston made the Raptors first field goal. This year however seems different. Louder, more persistent, and much more rampant. And not just with the fans. Raptors related media (whether TV, radio or print) haven't questioned jumping onto this wagon, something they've historically avoided.
Matt Devlin is perhaps a great example with the repetition of what should be his new catch phrase, "Contact no call". A claim that can be heard numerous times every game. While this doesn't explicitly indicate a missed call, it does allow a fan to question whether a call was missed or whether NBA rules are being applied appropriately.
Listening to the Raptors - Lakers game yesterday an even more interesting event happened. Late in the 2nd quarter Dwight Howard received his 2nd technical when Alan Anderson and himself had, what we'll call, an altercation. A double technical was called which resulted in Dwight Howards 2nd technical and he would therefore be ejected from the game. The refs came together, I imagine, to make sure the right call was made. Eric Smith and Paul Jones however seemed to think this was different. They never bothered to question whether the call was right. Rather they immediately and directly accused the refs of colluding in order to (paraphrasing) "try and figure out a way to keep Dwight Howard in the game", and then supported that accusation by claiming it was because "fans came to see Dwight Howard" It was a very direct and open accusation of not only NBA refs, but also the league in general.
Ofcourse no one actually knows what the refs were actually discussing. Were they ensuring they made the right call? Were they trying to figure out a way to keep a superstar in the game? Were they talking about the hottie in the 2nd row? That didn't matter to Jones and Smith - what mattered is if this call didn't stand as is, it was going to be a clear indictment of the league.
In the end the call was upheld. Dwight Howard was ejected. And no recantation of their claims or accusations were made by the radio hosts. Basketball life continued and that not so subtle hint that the Raps will continue to fight an uphill battle against the league remains in background.
It was unquestionably a rather important call in the game. One of the best centers, if not a clear superstar, in the league being ejected on what was thought to be a power house team who is in desperate need of wins. So ofcourse it doesn't go unnoticed:
Dwight Howard Ejected On Perhaps The Flimsiest Double Technical Foul Ever
Dwight Howard ejected on questionable 2nd technical
Dwight Howard Ejection vs. Raptors Proves NBA Refs Have Technical Foul Issue
Quite the different views from the local radio hosts isn't it?
On one hand we have some who question the call being made at all and the result a disservice to the game of basketball. On the other we have the refs gathering together after the call as an indictment of the league and the way the rules are applied.
Its no wonder there is so much more venom towards the refs and the league when those who are covering games are doing their best FOX news/MSNBC approach to coverage. Contact no call vs contact don't change the call or this league is corrupt? By all means question a call. Find evidence of unequal or unfair treatment of players and teams and present it. Ask questions or raise concerns. But events like the above? By those who at the very least indirectly represent both the team and the league? I can't say for certain whether individuals such as Devlin or Jones/Smith are creating this sort of atmosphere in Toronto or whether they are simply serving up a dish of media consumerism to keep fans tuned in. I can't say for certain the league doesn't script games and seasons or that there isn't a cabal of owners with lackey refs deciding outcomes. I do know one thing though. Some in the Raptors media aren't helping to educate fans by t-ing up excuses and handing out rolls of verbal tin foil.