This won’t be one of the drafted and researched articles I normally write. It’s something I have really wanted to write about, but knew it would be challenging to express my ideas. This is about something I saw that greatly disturbed me.
Watching the Rockets vs. Warriors game the other night was entertaining to say the least. It had potential to be the unofficial “Game of the Year”, much like the Chiefs vs. Rams game was in the NFL. The one score game was coming down to the final moments, and then this happens.
I’m sure you’ve already seen the play, but watch where the ref is standing and the angle he has to see the play. For him to make that big of a mistake, in that big of a game, during that big of a play, was in one word: frightening. Even though the Rockets ended up winning the game, that shouldn’t take away from the blatant mistake made by the NBA officials on the court.
All in all, it was the worst missed call I had ever witnessed live.
Yes, that’s a bold statement, but a lot of a referee’s job is subjective. A foul to me could look like an aggressive but legal play to the referee. This, however, is not a subjective call.
Before this play, I had never had a thought in my mind the NBA was rigged. I put the people who believed that in the same crazy category as the people who believe the earth is flat. (I apologize to any reader that is a “flat-earther”). This blatant missed call finally made me skeptical and aware of the possibility that the NBA could be rigging games.
I hate to be another sports blogger ripping the NBA refs without offering any suggestions on how to fix it. So without further ado, here are my three ways to fix the Association’s most prominent problem.
NBA Referees get fined for obvious bad calls
More than ever in league history, NBA officials are handing out fines to players who argue calls or criticize referees. Sometimes people, even referees, deserved to be critiqued for doing a bad job.
However, the league has a zero tolerance policy on critiquing a referee (I really hope I don’t receive a fine in the mail after this article).
Yet, I think the fines should go both ways. It is their job to make the correct calls. If a referee is not able to do their job, they should be fined. I’m not saying they need to be perfect, but they do need to be adequate.
I don’t want to sound hypocritical, as I have never refereed a game in my life. I understand the job of an NBA referee is difficult, so the fines should be a small, almost insignificant percent of an official’s income. This isn’t about punishing the official who made the wrong call as much as it is a sign from the NBA they are trying to fix a problem.
Honestly, this is my favorite suggestion. I would absolutely love to hear a referee explain some of the calls they made.
I realize that most of the explanations would probably be unsatisfying for a lot of fans. But often times cameras give us, the viewers, angles of a play the referee did not have. Fans could find solace if an NBA referee simply said “My view was being blocked from the play by other players so I didn’t blow my whistle.”
Post-game interviews would not only be entertaining and helpful, it would bring out referees into the spotlight. In my perspective, refs are these omnipotent and omniscient people who control how games are played. For fans like myself, interviews would humanize the refs and help make missed calls more understandable.
Although I doubt this (or any of my suggestions) could likely happen because of the NBA referee union, I think it would be fair that if a referee makes a couple bad calls, they get demoted to a lower level league. Just like with NBA teams, no player is tenured. If someone has bad games, then they might get demoted to the G-league. This creates an obvious pressure to give their best effort every night.
With NBA refs it should be no different. Missing calls and not calling obvious fouls on national television is bad for the NBA as a company. As with any company, a demotion could be helpful until the person proves he or she can officiate at the highest level.
Again, this isn’t to punish the NBA referees as much as it is to create a healthy pressure for officials to do their best job day in and day out.