Isn’t It Time NBA Allowed Coach’s Challenges?

Since becoming the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has had an almost perfect tenure.

Silver dealt with the disgusting racist behavior of owner Donald Sterling swiftly and firmly by orchestrating his eventual oust from the Association. With more fans and teams complaining about Conference dominance he worked with the owners to remove the automatic Divisional home court playoff seed. And, he’s been quick to jump on any matter whether it be of a touching nature like including Isaiah Austin in the 2014 draft or adding League sentiments to former players who’ve passed prematurely. One could argue he’s had a dream run as Commissioner of the National Basketball Association. That is until this week .

That’s when the League dropped the ball regarding how they dealt with the absolute disgusting gay slur hate spewed at referee Bill Kennedy by Rajon Rondo who received a one game suspension.

Further, Rondo’s subsequent apology was so obviously not genuine it should have resulted in an amended suspension with an equally unfeeling sentiment of remorse. While I’m not alone (see below), maybe someone can explain to me how racism is viewed as an offense worthy of League expulsion, but a sexual homophobic slur is considered a simple one game worthy infraction.

Now granted I’m a little heated as I write this column, however my intentions prior to the Raptors loss to the Kings was to cover this subject in terms of how Silver has entered new territory where he can be criticized and should be. Based on Kyle Lowry getting tossed for asking official Scott Wall to explain the discrepancy of his whistle last night, it only adds fuel to my argument, not to mention the burgeoning vitriol coursing through my veins.

Sure, Lowry should have shown more restraint, but at a certain point the players must be getting annoyed by the disparity of how officials are calling games. Given how George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins got in the face of the officials it is perplexing Lowry was the player who received the ultimate punishment. And with the Raptors getting robbed earlier this week in Charlotte, it is understandable why Lowry might be wondering why “the poster boy for how to treat officials” was getting away with repeated offensive fouls, but the zebra’s were calling every whiff of a touch on the Raptors end.

Post game Duane Casey said “I have to talk to Kyle about it and see what happened. I thought he was trying to ask for an explanation. Usually officials will walk away from a situation like that without throwing out a star player. I mean I heard a lot worse from their team to the officials… but again walk away.”

That’s about as demonstrative as the generally closed mouthed Casey gets regarding discussion of officials. And in fairness, though George Karl got a technical for berating the ref, he received the single technical and remained in the game whereas Lowry was just trying to talk to the official. This is likely what Casey is referring to, since he so seldom will speak negatively about refs.

When asked why he thought he was tossed, Lowry replied I was asking for an explanation, but stayed too long. Lowry did take full responsibility for letting his team and organization down, but at some point perhaps the organization needs to be acting on behalf of their team.

Review of the two plays gives Casey’s comments some merit. Granted it’s a different official, but the video shows at 1:30, Lowry is actually walking AWAY from the official when he decides to give him his second technical. And although I couldn’t get the gif added George Karl was much more demonstrative with the official and continued to berate him after he walked away from the explanation without recourse.

I mean Mr. Wall I’m sorry, but your actions remind me of that big kid who just became a door man at a bar for the first time and is exercising his new found power to deny access to people who weren’t his friends in high school. The eviction wasn’t necessary and your calls DID have an affect on the game, just like your non calls of Kings fouls were throughout the game!

The fact is the Toronto Raptors might just want to raise a white flag every time they play Sacramento since their last 4 outings versus the Kings have resulted in Lowry being thrown out twice and the zebra’s calling a bad foul on Cory Joseph in Sacramento which gave the Kings the game (see copy of report below with officials noting their error).

Report Joseph mistake

The previous toss of Lowry you may recall occurred February 5, 2014 in Sacramento. In that game the Kings went to the line 51 times to Toronto’s 24 times. New Commissioner Adam Silver was seated beside his good buddy and new Kings owner: Vivek Ranadivé having just gone over the plans for the Kings new arena earlier in the day. In the same game the Raptors mounted a 22 point come back effort led by Kyle Lowry and experienced what many called the worst call ever by an official.

First Lowry was called for kicking out his legs (his natural shooting motion on ALL his 3-pointers for the record) into Ben McLemore (a ROOKIE at the time) who ran directly at and into Lowry. In what should have been a 4 point play to pull the Raptors within 2 points was completely wiped out with the Kings going to the line for a technical free throw (though Rudy Gay did miss it for the record). Ironically, Lowry was tossed in this game for being too demonstrative for how he ran AWAY from the official.

Let’s go back to the post season 2 years ago when Amir Johnson was killing it on both ends in Game 7, only to have the officials suddenly start whistling him for phantom fouls. It was hard at the time to not feel like there was some sort of bias against Toronto, especially when later in the game Deron Williams fouled out of the game, but the refs allowed the foul to be given to Kevin Garnett instead.

My point is this isn’t something new to the Raptors. Going back 2 seasons ago the Raptors were the most penalized team in the final minutes of games though they led the league in their fourth quarter defense at the time.

Or the numerous times Charlotte has been gifted games by the officials. I believe they are also up to 3 gifts now in the past few seasons with no-calls, bad calls, and the mysterious one this week. My theory on the latter is they expected DeMar DeRozan to miss and were just going to say they didn’t see Kyle call time out, but once DeRozan made the shot they had to discount it and then just decided not to check the clock.

I’m at a bit of a loss as to their explanation because I’ve watched copious games where the refs are checking to see how much time is left on the clock in game closing situations. So, I’m not sure what I’m missing as to why this seems to only ever affect the Raptors where the officials say unless the clock completely expires they can’t check the play. In review of the official NBA rules there are noted areas which should have allowed the crew to either go to Secaucus or check the clock themselves.

Looking back at the Charlotte game the final 2 minute officials report shows they admit to making 3 incorrect calls all against the Raptors (and that doesn’t include the timeout situation). The funny thing is you can review multiple 2 minute reports and hardly ever find one admission of an inaccurate call let alone three admitted errors.

Hornets Official Report

Zebra Debacle in Charlotte

I use to think it all had to do with advertising dollars and the fact we are Canadian would always find us on the losing side of the argument given the big television contracts and accompanying product endorsements are all American (hence why Toronto also is ALWAYS awarded the noon start time in the playoffs). But this season has produced the worst officiating I’ve seen in years.

Case in point, in 29 games this season, the Raptors:

  • Suffered a loss because zebras ignored Carmelo Anthony travel/foot out of bounds
  • Incorrectly called a foul on Cory Joseph costing Raptors game in Sacramento
  • Same play as above occurred at 2:03 in Oakland (that tied game) but was discounted and a phantom foul called, as well as 2 other questionable calls
  • Discounted DeRozan’s game winning shot and refused to add approximately 2.5 seconds on clock versus Charlotte
  • Lowry given 2 technical fouls on same play both for asking for clarification, resulting in his ejection from game.

And some would argue the second game versus Golden State in Toronto was also questionably officiated in the closing moments, or the Orlando game that had several iffy calls throughout (which at the time felt like make up calls to the Magic for their own issues early this season). That’s 5 games the officials have either admitted to getting wrong or definitively played a role in the outcome (not counting the Orlando or second Warriors games). That’s 17% for those of you keeping count.

When people question why I get so annoyed it’s because statements like “it all works out in the long run” haven’t proven to be true in the case of Toronto. Unless the zebra’s screw another team to give the Raptors 3 to 5 wins prior to season end then how have they worked out? And further, why would any true fan of the sport want another team to suffer similar losses just so theirs could get back what was taken from them?

Don’t tell me it isn’t relevant because it may be the difference of the Raptors facing a tougher squad in the first round of the playoffs. Or with the Eastern Conference displaying such parity this season if the zebra’s continue to steal wins from the Raptors and they miss the playoffs because of it, is it then over reacting or time to get involved?

Let me ask you, how comfortable you feel the zebra’s will positively affect the Raptors outcome in 5 games of the remaining 53 this season? Or conversely, do you think there will be more games the Raptors will wake up the morning after to receive more apologies?

Again, I’ll reiterate when the zebra’s are more concerned about throwing out the Raptors star player for asking for clarification on calls in order to protect the opponent who just happens to be the same player who publicly humiliated your co –worker I’m sorry but I take umbrage with this.

The Association has made sure to put on the public persona of working to improve the officiating, but it is definitely the worst it’s ever been. But hey they made sure to address the “Hack-A-Shaq” rule. Now teams are not being allowed to foul players who can’t hit their free throws in the final 2 minutes of the game. So, that’s taking care of the most pressing official aspect of the game right?

Actually no, as J.J. Redick proved earlier this week when he fouled a player in this time frame while they attempted to rebound the ball. Technically it should have been seen as the Clippers defying the rule BUT… it’s the Clippers and their are different rules for them.

To that end, can you imagine if the Clippers, Knicks, Lakers, Cavaliers, Heat or any of the “prime time” teams had suffered 17% of their games played being lost because officials became the deciding factor?  I mean seriously!

And, while I’m blowing off steam here, the truth of the matter is there is a greater issue at hand that goes far and beyond the Toronto Raptors and their relationship with the zebras. On a whole, this season the officiating has been abysmal across the Association. Paul George can attest to this given the $35,000 he lost this week for criticizing the zebras.

Even the Golden State Warriors can tell you only via an all out force of will were they able to mount a comeback versus the L.A. Clippers. This in the game immediately after their victory over the Raptors which saw Draymond Green and Steph Curry called for plays they repeatedly were able to get away with against Toronto.

NBA officiating has become such a joke the BBoyz and I make bets in the first 5 minutes of games of who’ll win based on how the zebras are calling the early minutes. Adding merit to my assertion we’ve only lost 2 games out of the over 100 we’ve applied this strategy to! (the Warriors game vs. the Clippers, though in fairness some of us did think they would mount the comeback and a Minnesota Timberwolves game where they defied the zebra’s whistle).

While the Raptors are the perennial winner for most zebra shafts, other teams like the Magic and Timberwolves have also suffered multiple losses due to official miscues this season. And please note I’m saying the officiating is the worst I’ve ever seen LEAGUE WIDE, though again I doubt you’ll ever find the officials taking games from the Knicks, Lakers, Cavaliers or Clippers and I assume it’s because they draw the biggest TV shares.

Suffice to say the real issue at hand is why the NBA is still allowing officials to have so much control on the outcomes of games. For years the NBA has prided themselves as being the industry leader to implement new practices, but in this specific case they trail all their counterparts.

Each of the NFL, NHL and MLB utilize coach’s challenges effectively. Personally I like how Tennis utilizes player challenges to make sure the calls are accurate, but also utilizes the reward system in that they lose any wrong challenges and retain all correct challenges. For one of the big 4 major league sports to be so far behind their counterparts on an issue of this gravity it begs the question…. WHY? Further why does it seem they aren’t in any rush to resolve the issue or even discuss it?

My own personal opinion is skewed as based on this season’s officiating and the uptake in the Association trying to incorporate betting it feels the games are purposely being kept to look like there is more parity in the sport than there really is. I definitely could be wrong, but why is the NBA so averse to expediting adding a coach’s challenge? And, why is Secaucus even there if it can’t improve the game in the most critical stage (at game end)?

On a week where the zebra’s had an overt say in the outcome of fifty percent of the Raptors games perhaps I’m simply caught up in spilled milk. Or maybe it’s well past overdue for Adam Silver to paint his zebra’s with new stripes!

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