Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blowing the Whistle

I only made it until half time last night. Yes, I’m terribly disappointed in myself. However, once I got a feel for the game I knew there was no way the Celtics would win.

The hammer falling when Kobe Bryant started show boating a bit by dribbling the ball between his legs repeatedly, then having it stripped by James Posey. As the Celtics were running back down the court on a fast break the ref blows the whistle to call a technical on Kobe.

Now, this is the second time in as many games Kobe has vehemently complained to the refs and been T’ed up. On both the replay has shown virtually no contact making the no foul call the correct one. This leads me to believe one of two things is happening:

1: Kobe is trying to show up the refs and thinks he deserves preferential treatment (in other words, he thinks he’s Jordan, Bird or Magic)

2: Kobe knows he wasn’t fouled, but wants everyone in the building and watching on television to think there was a foul. Therefore, his sloppy play or missed shot is excusable. This would also mean that Kobe has some sort of pathological need to be viewed as infallible (in either his mind or the perception of the public); that he isn’t capable of making mistakes on the court.

I tend to go with number 2. During game two, Kobe went up for a mid range shot and just lost control of the ball. It went flying out of bounds and he shot his arms out wide in a vain attempt to draw a whistle. When nothing was called and the ball was awarded to the Celtics, Kobe made a show of shaking his head and looking back at the refs as if they messed up the call. Well, the replays showed there was no contact and Kobe simply lost the ball out of bounds. He, of course, can’t accept that and needs to show everyone that nothing is his fault.

Maybe that’s the problem with Kobe. He can never accept anything as being his fault. He berates teammates on the court, makes exaggerated faces when things don’t go well and will look at the refs whenever someone makes a good defensive play on him. It’s never his fault. Why can’t anyone see that?

Sorry, I digress. Discussing Kobe has the effect on me.

Anyway, when they called a technical on Kobe last night and literally put the brakes on a Celtics 2 on 1 fast break I still had some hope. When Ray Allen missed the free throw – badly – I knew it was over. Ray Allen doesn’t miss free throws and he missed the technical and the next one he took. Still, I was actually encouraged when I saw the Celtics had only lost by 6 points. Sorry, Celtics, but I needed to get some sleep. I’ll be back Thursday for the duration.

Over shadowing everything, though, were these allegations from 'convicted felon' Tim Donaghy. Supposedly, NBA referees were ‘acting in the interest of the NBA’ by influencing playoff games in order to extend the series. Most notable was Game 6 of the Lakers – Kings series back in 2002. Any NBA fan is very familiar with this game as it’s notorious for the corrosive officiating and has become the poster child for conspiracy theorists everywhere. The Lakers got away with murder and eventually won game 7 and the NBA Championship. In fact, this game is why nobody is sympathizing with the Lakers’ after game 2 in Boston. They were basically handed a golden ticket to the Finals in 2002 because of this atrocious game.

David Stern responded to the allegations by calling them a ‘desperate act’ by Donaghy to get a lighter sentence and ‘baseless’.

Now, this may be a desperate act, but they are certainly not baseless. Baseless means there is no rationale or basis for the accusations. That is not the case here and I will tell you why.

First, baseless accusations have no merit and will result in the general public dismissing them until further proof emerges. What was your first reaction when you heard this? Were you at all surprised? I’ll quote Scott Pollard who was part of the 2002 Kings team that got screwed over in the infamous game 6. ‘My first thought was: I knew it. I'm not going to say there was a conspiracy. I just think something wasn't right. It was unfair. We didn't have a chance to win that game’.

Pollard, along with even casual NBA fans, aren’t remotely surprised by this. At all! If that doesn’t tell Stern there is a major problem with the image of NBA refs then he’s wearing blinders.

Second, baseless accusations tend to be irrational and make no sense. Unfortunately for the NBA and Stern, bad officiating has surpassed trend to become a running joke. After game 2 in Boston, did anyone think the Celtics had any chance of winning game 3 in Los Angeles? Any chance? I know I didn’t. During one of his podcasts last week, Bill Simmons joked that the NBA stood to make over $400 million dollars if the Finals made it back to Boston for a game 6. More than $600 million if there is a game 7. You think the series will make it back to Boston?

Yeah, me too. In fact, the perception is that it would be impossible NOT to get the series back here. The refs will see to that.

And, there, Mr. Stern is why these accusations are not ‘baseless’. The common, accepted belief that referees will make sure playoff series like this one going on right now will go seven games. That nearly a billion dollars will be lost if it doesn’t is why these accusations are not baseless.

While you may not have criminal charges to worry about, Mr. Stern, you do have an image problem. And an image problem – baseless or not - is something you should be addressing. Not just dismissing.

Today’s distraction: Stephen A Smith’s take on the Donaghy statements. While he can be over the top at times, I like Smith’s take on things and he brings up even more evidence to back Donaghy’s claims. This includes a 2005 playoff series with Houston which prompted Jeff Van Gundy (Houston’s coach at the time) to openly criticize the way Yao Ming was being officiated. Van Gundy has backed off those statements, but it makes you wonder how ‘clean’ these current batch of officials are working these Finals games. Here’s hoping the Celtics sent them all team jersey’s for Christmas.


Hammen said...

What a mess. Fucking Donaghy.

son pere said...

What I can't believe is that Kobe was chosen as the league's MVP! I've even seen some sports reports comparing him to Michael Jordan. What a joke! There is no way Kobe has, or ever will have, the kind of "class" MJ has. I really don't know that much about basketball, or the NBA, but I know a "showboater" when I see one.

I agree with you, BB. Kobe does not want to take any responsibility for his sloppy playing and missed shots. Not the kind of character you want to see in your MVP.

'nuff said.