The Referee Epidemic

Last night I was watching the Timberwolves game and let me tell you, there were a lot of bad calls that let Detroit get back in it. The Wolves were leading by double digits going into the 4th quarter but their lead dwindled away and the Pistons won in overtime.

Now, I’m not saying that the Pistons won solely because of the refs. The referees didn’t help them make 20 three pointers, or shoot an unbelievable 41.7% from behind the arc. However, if you watched the game then you know that the Pistons benefited from several no calls late in the game.

I counted 5 different times that Derrick Rose was hacked and they didn’t call it. There was a moving screen in the closing minutes of the game that freed up Blake Griffin who found a wide open Reggie Jackson in the corner when Rose dropped down to help. Reggie buried the 3 and gave Detroit the lead late in the 4th quarter.

Little no calls like these totally change the outcomes of games on a nightly basis and there are never any repercussions for the referee crews. However, if you criticize the refs like Toronto Raptors Coach Nick Nurse did recently, you’re fined $15,000.

Chris Webber was the announcer for a game between the Rockets and Lakers last week, and was very vocal about his disapproval of several of the refs calls for James Harden and others during the game. He was so vocal about it that the Official NBA referee Twitter account felt the need to call him out:

Why is it hard to educate fans about the rules? Here’s what we’re up against. From last night’s game, @RealChrisWebber was incorrect here. This is a foul, as the defender makes illegal contact with his knee to the thigh of the offensive player, causing him to fall to the floor.
— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs)

Then there was this no call a couple nights ago for none other than James Harden, the NBA referees favorite player. Leading by 3 points with less than a minute in the game, James Harden traveled worse than anyone I’ve ever seen and instead of calling the travel the refs called a foul on Ricky Rubio giving Harden 3 shots at the line, and ultimately giving the Rockets the game.

Now, this time the snarky NBA Referee Twitter account came forward and admitted that they missed a travel call. Okay great, you can admit you missed the call, but can you give Utah that game back? Does the NBA fine those referees $15,000 for missing a crucial call?


They just pat them on the back and say, “you’ll get them next time,” and that is my biggest problem with the NBA.

I am sick of the inconsistency. These same referees called 4 travels in 5 minutes against the Timberwolves when they were playing the Golden State Warriors. These calls allowed Golden State to gain full control of a very close game in the 4th quarter.

Since when do these Refs call travels, let alone 4 of them in such a short time span… Well, almost never. Yet they do it against the Timberwolves who are coincidentally facing the darlings of the NBA.

They call 4 travels against the Wolves and then let James Harden tap dance all over the court on a nightly basis. Literally, a nightly basis. Just watch his highlights some times. His “unstoppable step back” is a travel.

I know, this is turning into a rant, but all I’m asking for is a little consistency. You can’t call a tic-tac foul for James Harden and then swallow your whistle when LeBron gets bear hugged on the other side of the court. This is a professional organization and our refs should live up to that name!


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