NBA Refs Have A Long Way to Go
It isn’t easy to be an NBA official in the aftermath of the Tim Donaghy era. Whether you’re an honest, hard-working ref who gives his all every night or not, your judgment and morals are guaranteed to be questioned by fans, players, and coaches night-in and night-out. A lot of times they don’t deserve it. Other times they do. Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference Finals game between the Celtics and Magic happened to be a perfect example of poor officiating and overreaction affecting the outcome of an extremely important basketball game.
The NBA has designed its rules in a way that allows the league to cover up the blunders of its officials when necessary. Flagrant and technical fouls can be reviewed after a game to determine if they should be upgraded, rescinded, or stand as called. If the league was not designed in such a way, the Boston Celtics would be without arguably their best low-post defender in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday. After being whistled for a foul in Wednesday Night’s Game 6, Kendrick Perkins stormed away from official Eddie Rush in anger, but Rush hit him with his second technical of the game anyways. A look at the picture above shows that Rush was just waiting for a reason to hit Perk with the “T”, rather than walking away himself. The second technical was Perkins’ seventh of the postseason — which would normally result in a one-game suspension — but the league got it right when they rescinded the technical, clearing Perk for Game 6.
The issue that doesn’t seem to be gathering much attention at the moment is the way in which the call affected the outcome of last night’s game. Yes, the NBA changed the call and got it right so that Perkins will not have to serve a suspension, but isn’t much of the damage already done? What the NBA did when they took back Perkins seventh technical of the playoffs is not simply clear him for Game 6 — they also admitted that a mistake made by one of their officials resulted in the Celtics losing their starting center for more than a full half of what could have been a series-clinching game. The way things were going, the Magic probably were going to win anyway. However, Rush created yet another unnecessary “what-if” situation with which the NBA must deal.
NBA officials not only need to start making better calls, they need to be more aware of the situation around them. Sure, players need to learn to walk away more often and Kendrick Perkins is the definition of a hot head, but referees need to learn to walk away themselves. Perkins was hardly trying to show Eddie Rush up by walking away; he was probably making sure he avoided getting thrown out by picking up a second technical. Everyone and their mother knows that Rush had to have felt like a complete moron once he realized he had just gotten Perkins thrown out of the game. There’s no doubt in my mind he completely forgot about the first technical Perk received, otherwise he would have ignored him instead of getting him ejected and possibly suspended in the Eastern Conference Finals. Unless, of course, Rush was just making sure the series gets extended. But we wouldn’t expect the NBA to play host to any type of crooked behavior like that, would we?