I'm not just glad that the Celtics beat the Pistons because I'm a Celtics fan. I'm glad the Celtics beat the Pistons because it allows me to complain about officiating without being accused of Boston homerism, as I was when I complained that the Celtics/Hawks series shouldn't have gone seven games.

Win or lose, I am genuinely dumbfounded by the state of NBA officiating. Apparently, the NBA is dumbounded as well - the league is so confident that NBA officials can't make calls on their own that they will institute fines for flopping. Now, sure, I suppose I'm pleased that action is being taken, but think about it - if the league had any confidence in its officials, wouldn't they simply instruct officials to punish flopping? Instead, they have chosen to outright circumvent their incompetent referees and defer to "in-game observers at the arenas and video reviewers" to assess this theatrical baffoonery.


We're not talking about fighting, where league officials need to review tape to determine how to punish a player for something done outside the bounds of the game itself...this is, in fact, the game itself. If players are flopping, and those flops are determining the outcomes of games, shouldn't officials be competent enough to call a flop on the spot? If they can't, then fire them and find officials who can.

What I'm most frustrated about is this - here we are on the verge of a potentially historically great NBA finals, and my enjoyment may be sidetracked by referees screwing it up. Hell, even in Game 6 of Celts/Pistons, when Rasheed Wallace went to the bench for a phantom foul on Kevin Garnett (after which he tossed the towel at the camera), I was actually feeling for him. I hate Rasheed Wallace - don't like him one bit - and yet I felt his pain. And if you watched close, you could see it in the eyes of every critical player on the court and on the bench - they were completely dumbfounded by the calls being made. This expression has become far, far too common in this league - and is no longer attributable just to players who "whine" and "cheat."

Get used to seeing that confused expression in these finals - beyond just an inability to distinguish flops from fouls and acting from reality, NBA officials now get to deal with the most polarizing and seductively theatrical player - Kobe Bryant - on the biggest stage. In a June Sports Illustrated article, a teammate says Kobe considers himself "an expert at fouling without getting called for it." Kobe is also arguably the premier expert at getting fouls called against defenders as well.

Quotes like these about Kobe would not be so disturbing were the state of officiating in the NBA not so poor. Kobe will do his act, and Pierce will do his best to mimick it. Refs will be easily lulled into thinking they've seen fouls they didn't see - and phantom calls will go both ways.

So will the NBA Finals be determined by which team puts on a better show? Is it really just about acting? I certainly hope not, because that will only add to my resentment if the Celtics lose, and it will, in my estimation, detract from their victory if they win.


"And heretofore shall I be acting as I approacheth the rim and 'taketh it to the hole.' And so shall Mister Pierce doeth what he can to followeth in my footsteps. And so shall flopping be the order of the day until such time as the league taketh my money for it. And so shall I decree that these tights are sheer and form-fitting and comfy, and thusly I will wear one upon my shooting arm whilst I play."

For the most part, I do feel the best teams manage to rise to the top in spite of the officiating we've seen in recent years, but should any team have to win "in spite of" officiating?
This 2008 NBA finals could be among the greatest: Lakers / Celtics in a renewal of a historic rivalry, with Phil Jackson poised to pass Red Auerbach in Champtionship rings, with only Red's team standing in his way. Let's hope for a great, fairly contested, and well refereed finals. And if the zebras ruin the sanctity of this contest, and take the sheen off of the winning team's victory, whether it be the Celtics ot the Lakers? Fire the lot of them and start again.

Ok, I'm done bitching. And I'm genuinely excited to see this finals, like so many other people are. Remember how that after-hours Rocky and Apollo fight turned into a painting at the end of Rocky III? The Lakers and Celtics have been similarly frozen, waiting 20 years for the next round...


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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Is it only me, or Basketbawful has become less and less funny as the Celts have advanced in the playoffs?
Is it possible that Boston fans are the best sports columnist... but only as long as they lose?
I'm sorry Bawful, maybe it's just because of the most boring playoffs in eons (after a super-exciting regular season), but I'm not able to take solace anymore in your lines.

Or maybe it is the first offseason moves. I loved the Suns, the Mike D's Suns. Now, all in a while, I'm going to despise the Steve Kerr's Suns, the Mike D's stumbling (do you think that Eddy Curry can actually run?) Knicks and maybe Mike D himself for having sold his mustachioed soul to Dolan's money. Wow. I haven't been this bitter (about basketball) in years.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm so glad someone finally pointed this out. The 4, 1, 1, 0, and 5 free throws Kobe got in the Spurs series definitely pushed the Lakers over the edge. His acting is definitely Shakespearean. We all know he didn't even deserve those 2 free throws in games 2 through 4. And then 5 whole free throws in game 5? The Spurs had no chance. Thank you Evil Ted for being the voice of reasoned, researched opinions.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
how can you not like sheed, in fact even hate him?

he is just oldschool, speaking his mind, not giving a shit ... the league would be so much better with more players like him.
he is so misunderstood, it´s unbelievable.
i thought that you, mr bawful, are able to cherish players, who don´t wanna be david sterns puppies..

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey, remember those finals way back when the referees destroyed everything? I think it was in the year 2006, when the Mavs were made losers against the Heat.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
You should have put Wallace's quote after game 5, expressing his disgust with the celtics penchant for flopping.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think there is 100% chance that the officials will screw it up. In order for them not to, there has to be a history of good officiating so that the players know how to react to good officiating.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
farfa -- Dude. Sorry. Seriously.

anonymous #1 -- This post was written by Evil Ted, not me. I totally dig 'Sheed. He makes me laugh. And yeah, I wish there were more personalities like his...even though his behvior is sometimes destructive to his team.

anonymous #2 -- Yep. Yep, I remember that.

joseph -- That quote made Worst of the Night last week, just FYI.

mike s -- Good officiating? What's that?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Actually, anonymous #1 was the poster who pointed out how laughable it is to make a fuss about Kobe's ability to create phantom fouls, when he only shot 2 free throws over a span of 3 games and 11 in the entire series.

Anyway, why blame the zebras for this problem? It's totally obvious that it's the NBA manipulating games by sending crews that call things in a certain way to favor one team. They've been doing this since the 90's - remember the Bulls and Knicks series? All in an effort to extend every series to 7 games, you know so the league can make more $$.

Great teams, like the 90s Bulls and the current Lakers squad win despite the officials, good teams like the Spurs and Pistons (and Celtics), not so much.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I just wanted to say something for the conspiracy theorists out there: if you believe that the NBA is in fact rigged, and that they were pulling every string they could to get the Lakers and Celtics in the Finals, then at least you can take some comfort in knowing that since these two teams now are in the Finals, there's no clear cut reason the NBA would want one team over the other to win. They're already gonna get their ratings bonanza, so they should be happy. The cynics might say they could try to rig it to stretch out the series, but I think it's a good chance this thing goes at least 6 just because both teams are so good anyway, so no interference should be necessary there. As far as I can tell, the Celtics winning their first title in 22 years while KG, Pierce and Allen all get their first rings is just as good a storyline for the league as Kobe returning to the top without Shaq and Phil Jackson surpassing Auerbach's record for rings against his former team, and vice versa. Neither team should be favored by the league in this series, so hopefully the whining will be kept to a minimum.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
What the hell happened to this site? It gives me the runs, it has turned to shit. Please watch the NFL before you complain about NBA refs, if the year the Seahawks lose the SB was not bad officating then i don't know what is or God forbid watch FIFA soccer (countries file petitions over games every year, countries not individuals, that is how important it is and how badly everybody believes they never got a call) were if you you are not complaining about the refs your team is not playing, yet is is a sport follwed by 4 billion people. You guys are pathetic, you can't get it your way so you bitch. While CP3 was palming his way to his bogus assists i didn't hear one of you complain about the refs or is palming no longer a volation in basketball?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
sic -- Oops. Yeah, I missed that one. And it should be pointed out that I openly mocked the fact that Kobe only got 11 FTAs in the Spurs series. That's crazy. Again, this post wasn't written by me. Which is not to throw Evil Ted under the bus, but I'm not really on the anti-ref bandwagon at the moment.

Yams -- I'm not really worried about the officiating myself. However, I would like to point out, as I do every year, that the league did do one major thing to much with the Finals, and it started in 1985: The 2-3-2 format.

That format was specifically created to ensure a longer series. It greatly increases the chance that a series will go at least six games, since, if the team with homecourt wins the first two and steals Game 3 or 4, they're likely to come out flat in Game 5 because they know they have two chances at home to win the series. It happened with the Celtics in '86, it happened with the Lakers in '87, I felt like it happened with the Bulls in '96.

It just makes no sense, you know? Why have 2-2-1-1-1 in every round except the Finals? Stern once said it was to save the players from excess travel, which would supposedly make them fresher. Uh, yeah, whatever.

anonymous #4 -- Dude, I hope your case of the runs turns out okay. I would suggest Pepto or maybe some Imodium A-D. That usually works for me.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
farfa - You spend a lot of time commenting for someone who is so turned off by the site. Just sayin'.

anonymous 4, 1, 1, 0, 5 - I wasn't talking about the Spurs series per se. I fully expect a Jordanesque series of phantom calls for Kobe, and a number for Pierce as well. Even if it evens out for the two team, the amount of ref failure being tolerated in this league is absurd.

anonymous 2 - i hate sheed only in a "he's on a team I don't much care for" way. Actually, I kind of enjoy his rare brand of street angry. When I said "I hate him" I meant I have no particular fondness for him, and yet find myself feeling compassion for players who have to endure this officiating.

mike s - finally a voice of reason. yes, the HISTORY of officiating has made the league what it is. And that must change, plain and simple.

sic - I'm sick of teams prevailing "despite" bad officiating. You should be too. It's not worthy of the NBA.

wild yams - I'm not remotely suggesting conspiracies in officiating. These referees are not capable of perpetrating such a ruse. But your point about both teams having equally intriguing "storylines" is well taken. My ref frustration has completely departed from Boston fannery. I want the league officiating cleaned up for the betterment of the sport, and frankly don't understand the people who get needlessly irate over the issue. And I'M the one with the nickname Evil Ted? How about Sinister Farfa, or Angry Anonymous?

anonymous seahawks fan - That Superbowl was an unmitigated disaster, but was also an aberration in a better run league. As for your runs, eat more bran and call me in the morning.

On second thought, don't call.

Basketbawful - For someone not throwing me under the bus, you sound an awful lot like someone throwing me under the bus. That's ok, I still love you. This is why I have made it so clear that a given post is an EVIL TED post in the past, and seeing as people still have trouble reading, I will have to continue to do so.

To all the haters, I feed off your ire. It only makes me stronger. I will, if you like, back away from the travesty that is NBA officiating, but be prepared for the insanity that takes its place.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Dear Bawful and all,

"In spite of" officiating? You're 2 years late to the party.

-A Suns fan.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Actually, Bawful and I discussed this at length, with me starting off by asking, "Do you really think there is the Stern consipiracy?" I won't betray his answer, but in the course of our discussion we came to an agreement that the refs seem encouraged to call the games to make them more exciting.

It's just like "computer assistance" from NBA live. One team gets too far ahead? Well then the refs stop calling it when they get hacked. It's all about trying to find some parity in the score at the end of the game.

As for flopping, it should totally affect the game. Fining players money is about as effective as suspending high schoolers - they don't want to be at school anyway? When you get paid $10 mil a year, a $25K find is nothing. It literally translates into a $125 fine if you made $50K a year, not even including the concept of proportional value.

Everything else in ball is free throws - why not flopping? And if you REALLY want players to stop, tell them their shorts go up 1 inch per flop. You'll soon be able to see the Spurs backcourt wearing 80's short shorts.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
anacondahl - Nobody said poor officiating is "new." But seeing as it can be measured in multiple years - and now that it's horribleness had undeniably changed the way the game is being played - isn't that more than enough?

Baddave - Nice comments - Thoughtful, well conceived, amusing, and you actually expressed your opinion without being a nasty jerk to boot. I hope certain other posters learn to follow your lead.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Come on, Evil Ted, don't get angry at me... I know, I have been harsh with a previous comment of mine (about another Celtic Pride post that shocked me for its cockiness), but still.

I spend time commenting on this site because I think it is very funny. Well, right now it was, but I have no doubt that, come July, I'll be pretty excited reading this blog.

Seriously, this Boston aura doesn't do any good to you. You can be a fanatical Boston supporter as you want, but you can't pretend I will jump on your bandwagon just because. Even worse, you can't pretend to be amusing just by shoving your Pride down our pagan throats.

You know what? I like this Boston team (that is, actually, if you take out Paul Pierce. He is a great player, a fierce competitor, but he gives me chills - bad chills, sonofagun chills - when I see him play). I would love to see KG get a ring. What I don't like is that Boston fans seem like they can't win staying classy... just ask Bill Simmons.

Anyway, Evil Ted, I find it great that you (and Mr. Bawful himself) take some time to debate with us loyal readers. You may not know this, but in a certain sense the posts on this site made my day in a very gloomy period of my life, and for that I can only thank you.

This site used to give me emotions. That is what I ask for. This Boston Celtics post, on the other hand, don't. Is just that simple.
I am sure, as I said before, that this site will be back in the fun saddle in a short period of time, but as you may have noticed, other loyal readers such as flothingpoint, starang, and so on don't comment as much as they used to.

But then again, it might just be that we Suns fans are bitter in losing as you Boston fans are cocky in winning. Just sayin'.

Oh and, Evil Ted, I respect you very much. I honestly do. I just think that Bawful's ironic nature fits more than yours with mine.

(One more thing: why Sinister Farfa?)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Sorry to cross briefly over to football...

But Seattle was mugged by the refs so badly in that super bowl that I actually APPRECIATED the NBA refs in the ensuing season. Phantom touchdowns, pass interference call/no-calls, it makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

The entire city of Seattle crawled into a bottle of whiskey and didn't come out until they had forgotten about that game entirely- thanks to you, Anonymous, I must now crawl back into that bottle- which will be tough at the office, but I cannot live with that memory- it must be erased!

Here's to a great finals with no ref-debates and revenge of the Seahawks in '09!

Blogger Wild Yams said...
This site has definitely become more serious lately, but it's a serious time of year, and there aren't all the usual games from which to cull the normal hilarity. We oughtta get a serious discussion of matchups in this series going, or coaching strategies or something.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
How about Fanatic Farfa? You're even going to gripe about your nickname? Sheesh ;)

Farfa - I generally preface my posts by saying I'm a Boston guy because it's part of who I am, but I try hard to keep that particular fact from clouding my opinions. Sadly, I think when I make that preface, it automatically changes the way readers interpret what I write. I can put together what I think is a pretty fair minded post and then get blasted by people who clearly haven't fully read or fully comprehended what I've written. Not really a great endorsement of our educational system...

...and I don't expect anyone to jump on my bandwagon. Read my post again. There's not one single "Here's why you you should like the Celtics too" in there. Hell, there isn't even a "Here's why you should hate the Lakers." My comments are about a ref problem that is out of control and a problem affecting the entire league. Are people sick of the subject? Fine, I'll back off. But the greatness of basketball is suffering, and I hate to see that.

I guarantee you I will win - and lose - classy. Don't lump me in with Simmons, or Boston fans who scream behind reporters at the Garden. That ain't fair. When you read what I write, use discriminating judgement, but don't discriminate.

Yams - I appreciate your posts. They are well thought out and enjoyable.

And to the both of you, if it's a little fun you want, be ready. There is a post forthcoming this week that will bring the funny - in a new and exciting way. Watch for it. You'll know which one it is.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Kobe hating on Basketbawful is awful.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Evil Ted, I can only hope that the forthcoming funny entry focuses on Sasha Vujacic's hair and the headband he got from a Laker girl. Either that or discussing whether Eddie House's kid get will get crushed by the Larry O'Brien trophy if the players hand it to him.

Anyway, I was serious when I said I didn't mind the seriousness on this site of late. Seriously :)

Blogger Evil Ted said...
To the most recent Anonymous: you didn't fully read or understand this post. It's folks like you who give bad comments a bad name.

Yams - think video.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Glad to see I'm not the only NBA fan who has been disappointed by the state of refereeing (is that a word) in the Association these days.

Blogger .notebook said...
Man, I want to be a referee in the NBA. No responsibility, cakewalk position. Dream Job... (sigh)

Blogger Joe said...
I'll sign this post.

The NBA going to punish the players for taking advantage of poor officiating? Hell as much as they are getting paid, I fully expect them to seize every advantage.

As if the after the fact punishments will do anything either. I'll take the flop, win the game, pay the fine later thank you. Unfortunately, Stern can't pin it on the officiating, it would be a chink in his armor of perfection.

This talk is reminding me of the day I lost faith in the NBA officiating...I'm getting misty.