It’s bad. The state of refereeing in the NBA is not good. No, I’m not talking criminal (see: Tim Donaghy), but something needs to change. Everyone complains about the refs. Or to the refs (see: any player or coach who has ever picked up a technical foul). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hard job. The game is fast and there are a lot of tricky calls. And it’s not like these guys are paid professionals.
Part of the problem is that some rules need to be adjusted to today’s game. Sometimes the bad calls are just following the letter of the rulebook. So there’s that. Other times though, it’s just bad calls. Or non-calls. Or calls to me from my dad about how bad the officiating is (those are the worst).
Then there’s preferential treatment. Stars get calls. Rookies and Daniel Theis get hosed. LeBron James, James Harden, Joel Embiid, and all the usual suspects get calls. Remember when LeBron traveled while the refs just let him? I know, “which time?” you ask. This one was my favorite:
Seems fair. Kinda surprised the defender didn’t get T’d up for complaining actually.
And the ref on the bottom is literally STARING at LeBron while he does it…
Luckily I have some ideas!
#1 STOP THE BAILOUTS
Just stop. Stop rewarding bad offense. When players drive and barrel into someone BLAME THE GUY WHO INITIATED THE CONTACT. Same with when guys get the defender in the air and then DIVE into them to get the call. It’s crap. No one wants to play with the guy on the playground who does that. Which is why it hardly ever HAPPENS on the playground. Stop letting these guys game the rules like this. It’s not fun to watch. And yeah, I get why technically these are defensive fouls, but come on. This is embarrassing. Like posting on TikTok. Or admitting you root for the Timberwolves.
#2 STOP WITH THE OUT OF BOUNDS
If you’re gonna let LeBron carry the ball around like a miniature poodle, you have no excuse for blowing the whistle every time a player with the ball randomly steps on the line forty feet from the basket. Granted the players deserve it for being that dumb, but it’s torture to watch. Even the announcers are starting to grumble about it so I know it’s not just me.
Or make the offending player wear a dunce cap for the rest of the quarter.
At least switch his jersey to one that says “I’m with stupid” with an arrow pointing up at his head. Then we can even look forward to it!
#3 USE REPLAY RIGHT
It shouldn’t take four hours to see if you got the call right. You’re not investigating a murder, this isn’t CSI. We see one or two angles on the TV and we know the answer in ten seconds – why are you still looking for the rest of the night? Did you order drinks or something? I’ve seen faster service at the DMV.
It shouldn’t even be the same refs who made the call anyway. Just have the command center take a quick look and say “you blew it – give the ball back to Phoenix and take a lap, Mauer”. The whole thing just has that 1995 dial-up modem feel. We’re better than this. We have 5G now. And Chipotle.
#4 LET THE PLAYERS DECIDE THE GAME
I know, I know, you have that shiny whistle and a chance to steal the spotlight at the end of the game. Stop doing it. We want to see big time players make (or miss) big time plays to win the game. We don’t want to watch them shoot free throws for the W. No ticky tack fouls, and no bailouts. Let the players earn their meager salaries. If it’s blatant, fine. Otherwise swallow that whistle so deep we only hear it if you fart.
NBA basketball – we used to be fun to watch!
#5 CALL MORE TECHNICALS
This one seems counterintuitive I know, but hear me out. The only thing worse than the bad calls (and non-calls) is watching players and coaches react to them. I say let the T’s fly fast and furious until everyone shuts the hell up. If I have to keep watching Jayson Tatum throw his arms up after not getting the call thirty-seven times per game I’m gonna lose it. And he’s far from the biggest cry-baby, but I don’t want to keep picking on players whose names I won’t mention. Like LeBron. Yeah, we know you got fouled, it happens to everyone. Shut it. Imagine if the contestants on Wheel of Fortune acted like that when they land on bankrupt – would anybody root for them? Hell, they usually just smile through it awkwardly out of fear of looking like a sore loser forever online.
The internet is real, people.
The moment a player complains about a call the network should super-impose the Bernie Sanders mittens meme. And then post the clip to the player’s Twitter. There needs to be more shaming. Maybe a naked march through the village square Game of Thrones style?
We might start to see better behavior. Just sayin’…
As always, thanks for playing!
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