One of the greatest problems with professional basketball (and football for that matter) is the power of the referees. Often times they have as much consequence toward the results of the contest as the coaches or players. In this year’s Eastern Conference Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat the men with the whistles judged the first two games as though the teams were playing different sports.
The Chicago Bulls like to play a physical defense. They push opponents, grab them, and throw elbows at their midsection, all of which are considered fouls under every basketball rulebook I have encountered. But in game 1, as in many NBA contests, this hard nosed, borderline dirty play was allowed and the Chicago Bulls ended up winning by 21 points.
In game 2 physical contact was determined to be illegal. If you were smacked in the face or pushed to the ground whistles were blown. In this game the Miami Heat won by 10 points.
I’m all for subjective opinions on literature and foreign cinema, but basketball is a sport. A foul is a foul. Just because the referees change from game to game doesn’t mean the rules should.
I know referees are only human, but that might be the problem. A couple years ago an NBA referee, Tim Donaghy, was arrested for fixing games. While Donaghy fixed games because he gambled on them, he claimed other referees fixed games under command of the league. More games means more money for the NBA, so according to Donaghy, playoff series were extended to increase revenue. Whether this happened or not I’ve seen too many bad calls in crucial situations for me not to question the referees’ integrity. Some have vendettas against particular players or teams while other referees like Dick Bavetta are flat out incompetent.
So what’s the solution? Get rid of the referees. Like they do in the playgrounds and the YMCA, let the players call the fouls.
This does open a new can of worms. In friendly games with nothing at stake but bragging rights, there’s always the jerk who calls a foul on every missed shot causing possessions to be interminable, but I have another solution. Every NBA game is taped by a multitude of cameras. Allow the coaches and players to challenge calls. If a player is revealed by instant replay to have made a bogus call, he is given a technical and the other team is granted a free throw. If he makes a second bad call he is given another technical and is ejected from the game.
I know the referees help makes games more dramatic and entertaining. They have the power to keep teams in a game, so that there can be an unforgettable ending. But as an aficionado of the sport of basketball, I would prefer to see the game in its purest form where the play determines the winner and not a judge. This would put an end to flopping and the only people players could whine to would be their mamas.
Besides, while it might be a microcosm of society, it’s just in bad taste to have all these short white guys bossing around African-Americans telling them what they can and can not do.