Wednesday, June 11, 2008

KGjr, NBA Finals, NBA Officials

Wow, it's been a minute since I've blogged. I'm the epitome of laziness right now. I'm back at it though. Here's what I missed in no particular order. Actually I missed a lot, so maybe I need to say here'r a few things that I would have mentioned had I bothered to update this blog over the past week, in no particular order.

Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 600th career home run! That's a big deal considering KG Jr. missed what seems like a thousand games during his wonderful career. He was supposed to be the guy to break Hank Aaron's record. Not to take anything away from Barry Lamar Bonds, but Griffey would probably have about 800 home runs had he not been injured so much. KG Jr. has been great since the beginning and he has the most beautiful swing you'll probably ever see.
And, he's quite handsome.

The Laker's and Celtics are in a heated battle for the NBA title. The Celts won Game 1 without incident unless you classify Paul Pierce being carried off the court and then placed into a wheelchair only to return 3 minutes later an incident.
I mean seriously Paul, I know you heard a pop and you thought "it was all over" but you cannot be carried off the court and placed in a wheelchair then come back 3 minutes later. You just can't. You need to be facing season ending surgery or at the very least you should need surgery as soon as the series is over. At the very, very least you should have missed at least the rest of the quarter if not the whole damn game! At least when D Wade got rolled off for his shoulder injury he didn't come back 3 minutes later to play the role of hero. I'm not saying you faked it, but you damn sure over exaggerated it.

Game 2 was no better for the Lakers. Leon Powe shot more free throws in the 14 minutes he played than the entire Lakers team. That should pretty much tell you all you need to know about that game. Naturally Phil was upset about the free throw disparity and of course he brought it up during his post game interview. I mean, he had to let the refs know that kind of chicanery would not be tolerated as the series headed to The Staples Center. Which brings us to Game 3. The Lakers got the calls they couldn't get in Boston and they won. It was ugly for both teams. Ray Allen is the only player who bothered to show up for Boston and Kobe and Sasha were the only viable Laker threats. I don't know what's going on with Pau and Lamar, but they've been pretty much useless throughout these Finals. Phil needs to consider bringing them off the bench. Lamar has spent most of his time there in foul trouble anyway. PP and KG also played like crap and for whatever reason people think that Boston should be more encouraged than the Lakers. They act like the Lakers gave the Celtics their best shot and just barely won. I guess Pau and Lamar aren't as important to the Lakers as PP and KG are to the Celtics. Anyone who thinks that's true is a flawed individual. I mean, Kobe is good, maybe even good enough to win this series by himself (which he might just have to do) but he still needs at least one of his other starters to give him something. I fully expect the Lakers to play better in Game 4. Phil and I think they've played about as bad as they possibly can already, but at least 3.5 of his 5 starters are hell bent on proving us wrong. I digress.

Tim Donaghy is making noise again. He's alleging the fix was on in the 2002 and 2005 playoffs by the league. Specifically the Lakers/Kings series where the Lakers shot 27 free throws in the 4th quarter of Game 6. He basically said the officials were told to make sure that series went 7. Now to the conspiracy theorists this all makes perfect sense. Honestly when you hear that one team shoots 27 free throws in any quarter your eyebrows have absolutely gotta raise. That's just obscene. I don't know if Timmy is telling the truth because let's face it homeboy is facing a lot of time so he needs to say whatever he needs to say to get a lighter sentence (at least that's what the Commish wants us to believe) howeva, I'm not ready to just disregard what he's saying just because he's a bit unscrupulous. That doesn't mean he's lying. See Canseco, Jose.
Here'r some of his allegations:
"Tim gave information on how top executives of the NBA sought to manipulate games using referees to boost ticket sales and television ratings," the letter reads. "He also described how nepotism played a far greater role than qualifications in a number of referee hirings."
• "Tim explained the league officials would tell referees that they should withhold calling technical fouls on certain star players because doing so would hurt ticket sales and television ratings," the letter adds. "As an example, Tim explained how there were times when a referee supervisor would tell referees that NBA Executive X did not want them to call technical fouls on star players or remove them from the game. In January 2000, Referee D went against these instructions and elected a star player in the first quarter of the game. Referee D later was privately reprimanded by the league for that ejection."
• In addition to game-altering allegations, Donaghy's letter claims that many officials carry on "relationships" with team executives, coaches and players that violate their NBA contracts. For example, it said, referees broke NBA rules by hitting up players for autographs, socializing with coaches, and accepting meals and merchandise from teams.
"Tim described one referee's use of a team's practice facility to exercise and another's frequent tennis matches with a team's coach," the letter says.
• The letter also alleges that during a 2005 playoff series, "Team 3 lost the first two games in the series and Team 3's Owner complained to NBA officials. Team 3's Owner alleged that referees were letting a Team 4 player get away with illegal screens. NBA Executive Y told Referee Supervisor Z that the referees for that game were to enforce the screening rules strictly against that Team 4 player. Referee Supervisor Z informed the referees about his instructions. As an alternate referee for that game, Tim also received these instructions.

Stern needs to address this. Fans have been grumbling about NBA officiating for years. Lord knows I've bitched about it on more than one occasion. Telling us Timmy is just a desperate man and etc. just ain't enough this time. Considering how easily the subjectivity of the officials can change the tone of a game its not completely preposterous that refs other than Timmy could have called things differently to help or hurt a team.
I don't understand why Stern continues to act shocked that fans think officiating is biased. The announcers remind us of it during every game in some way, shape or form. They'll say things like, "he's a superstar so he's going to get that call" or "you're not going to get that call on the road" or "(insert name of role player here) is not going to get that call this late in the game", or "the officials aren't going to make that call at the end of the game". You know, just to name a few things the announcers constantly say. Not to mention every time an ex player gets interviewed about some random game situation, they point out those same types of things. So if the announcers, players and ex players constantly tell the fans about how games are going to be reffed, what are we supposed to think? When the Lakers got hosed by the officials in Game 2 EVERYONE knew they'd get the majority of the calls in Staples Center and they did. I don't know if its bias or predictability, but it's a problem either way.

The only way the league is going to get the fans to get over these conspiracy theories is to make the refs ref the games consistently. The player, time of game, and venue should not dictate when a foul is called or not called for someone. For as long as I can remember it has been a determining factor and that's just unacceptable on so many levels.
Timmy is set to be sentenced in July. Hopefully someone somewhere will put some pressure on Stern to address and fix this problem because even if nothing comes of what Timmy has said, the league still needs to improve the perception the fans have of the officials. For years we've watched Stern fine players and coaches relentlessly whenever they talk recklessly about the officials, if he wants us to believe that they're just human so sometimes they make mistakes then he should let the players and coaches voice their opinions from time to time without having to pay a hefty fine. If an official is having a particularly bad night someone should be able to say so. They basically go unpunished when they have really, really bad nights. What kind of message do you think that sends to players and fans? It basically tells us that the officials are not held accountable for their actions. If they were then there's no way in hell Joey Crawford would have reffed a critical game in the San Antonio/Lakers series. He got suspended because he ejected Duncan for no real reason last season, and this is the guy you put on one of the most important games of the Spurs season? Coincidentally the officials "missed" an obvious foul on Brent Barry by Derrick Fisher. I'll let you guess which official was closest to the play.....

No comments: