I was perusing youtube last night and came across a video called "Lakers/Celtics Bad Officiating" with its submitter claiming "Kobe can't get a call in his favor from the refs no matter how hard he goes to the hole and gets fouled."

This video is perfect example of seeing what you want to see.

I'll admit I'm not Kobe Bryant's biggest fan. I don't care for most aspects of his play and attitude (weak defense - except for the highlight reel, selfish offense, unjustified arrogance, pretending Shaq's greatness is his own, etc.) And I'll admit I don't like the Lakers (on the other hand, I don't like the Celtics much these days either - dearest Lord, bring me back to 1986).

Considering the notion that the world is divided into Celtics and Lakers fans, watch the following video, assess your emotions, and you should know which you are. I'm convinced, however, that my distaste for the Lakers has no bearing on the fact that I am positive this video is crap. It shows Kobe Bryant driving to the hoop over and over and deservedly not getting foul calls. Yet, with the caption on this video, combined with the commentary of the L.A. announcers, it's easy to be lulled into the notion that this is simply bad officiating or Celtics home cooking.

Sorry, it's not home cooking. You know what it is? It's that guy we've all played with in pick-up ball who rams into you and calls a foul...every...single...time. Only in this case, it's the NBA, and Kobe has to rely on other people to make his lame ass foul calls for him. And they ain't playing that. And he doesn't like it. Wah.

Almost every drive to the hoop in a given basketball game initiates contact, and almost any play can appear to be foul. But they're not all fouls. And the slow motion replays on this particular video proove that out. This is a whining prima donna of a player tossing himself toward the basket and looking for calls. Just because he doesn't have the clout to intimidate officials like Jordan did, doesn't mean he's getting screwed out of calls. These are legit non-calls, and he's doing what comes naturally to himself, Phil Jackson, and Laker nation - whine.

Proof of the whining will come, I assure you. I can already see the angry e-mails by Laker fans who - despite Kobe scoring 43 in the game, scoring a basket on almost every play where he supposedly got fouled, and the Lakers winning the game against a lowly, pathetic Celtics team - will feel compelled to tell me what a baised idiot I am, and how blind I am to Kobe's greatness.

Let 'em come.

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Blogger Chris said...
Great post - I hate those guys in my pickup game. Completely unrelated - given your typical content - I was wondering if you had the answer to this question:
How do former allstars/elite players compare to former average players when it comes to coaching, managing, etc after their playing days are over?

McHale, Jordan, etc have struggled, while a guy like Sam Mitchell is starting to flourish.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
After watching it several times, I saw two fouls, and neither were ones he or the announcers were whining about.
1) At about 1:43 left, Kobe (I think it was Kobe) runs into a pretty blatant illegal pick.
2) With abot 0:46 left, his defender grabs his jersey on the way to the basket and a flop.
To Kobe's credit, however, I don't think he traveled when he was "pushed in the back." He dropped the ball too soon.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
From this video, I would guess that there is one debatable missed call when Kobe drives the lane and is bumped around by four celtics, although it looks like he initiated the contact, and was partly out of control.

His reach in foul/steal was a blatant foul.

Kobe should stop posting these on youtube, the NBA head office doesn't have internet.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
I greatly appreciate the self-imposed restraint of our comment makers. Having been duly notified of my expectation of Laker-fandom-inspired whining, you all sound quite reasonable, logical, and sober.

I shall address the plays in question:

1.) The play with 1:43 left is arguably an illegal pick, but that's weaker than my 96-year-old grandmother, and that crap happens all the time and it's a very defensible non-call.

In my pickup league, "Michigan Guy" (see the basketball nicknames entry by Basketbawful) regularly traveled with the ball. Basketbawful and I realized he was never being called for it because, frankly, if we called it every time it happened, there wouldn't be a basketball game to play - it would be a night full of indbounding the ball after travel calls...of course, it didn't hurt that Michigan Guy stinks to high heaven, so his "getting away" with traveling made him no more effective on the court.

"Illegal" picks happen all the time to varying degrees. That one was weak, but obviously the video poster had a problem with it too, since he included it in the video. Lame.

Let's face it, there's gotta be a little bit of "let 'em play" mentality...can you imagine a pick-up league with five Kobes vs. five MJs? Think it would be impressive? It would be a night of griping and free throws.

2.) The supposed jersey grab is nothing. The defender gave up on guarding Kobe, tried a meager reach-around, and that was it. Kobe didn't whine about it because there was no reason to (that implies Kobe only whines if there's a legitimate reason, which is incorrect). The verdict: Let 'em play (see above).

3.) Kobe didn't travel because his head and the ball were butting into the help defender. This should have been a non-call, but Kobe will assert until the end of time he was fouled. There was no push on the play, regardless of how indignant the LA announcers are in asserting that there was.

4.) Kobe drives into 4 defenders: Watch the play again. Kobe only contacts one of the players, and he's the one who initiates contact. The defender remains largely still and hits the ball, not Kobe. Again, a completely legit non-call.

All in all, it's incredibly easy for fans and officials alike to be fooled into thinking they are seeing something that they aren't really seeing. This is why court theatrics can be so effective. A flail here and a flop there can get you to the free-throw line, even if no illegal contact is made. This video should be renamed "Lakers/Celtics GOOD officiating." The officials made the right calls for the most part, weren't fooled by theatrics, and weren't intimidated by a mock-superstar trying to sway them. In a world where NBA officiating is often suspect, this video is a prime example of where the officiating was done right.