After the watching the first game of the NBA playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs, I thought about the foul calling criteria and how it is ruining the whole game experience for a lot of fans. Sure the referees have to call fouls which is part of the game but now it has become the most important part of the game that dictates victory. The referees are dictating game flow by how much contact they allow. Plain and simple.
Referees have always dictated game flow in any sport where officiating has a lot of objective rulings. In baseball, an umpire just needs to call balls and strikes, 95% of the time they get the call right. In hockey and soccer there is a little more scrutiny but football and basketball have reached new levels of highly technical and nitpicky rulings of plays. They have to constantly stop the game to look at something or put on some headphones and look at a television set. Then we have to wait as fans until some guy in New York makes a decision.
So back to Warrior and Spur game. The whole situation of Kawhi Leonard and Zaza Pachulia situation is enough to through your TV out window. The whole discussion if a player is dirty because he might of intently stepped on another players foot is stuff for tabloids. If you watch the replay over a million times you will never know what this guy was thinking. He stepped on the guy’s foot, it’s a foul, can we move on. Basketball is a contact sport and expecting huge men not to bump into each other is fruitless. There has to be some give and take on this contact thing.
This year in particular, I have seen more and more players throw their body into a defender just to get a foul shot. It is getting to the point where defenders have to act like statues and just put their arms up. Even that gets exploited by the likes of James Harden who initiates all of the contact but gets to shoot foul free throws. The NBA better get a handle on this quick because it has become embarrassing for the sport.
With foul calling being so scrutinized in the NBA there has be summit this off season. There has to be one set of rules that are consistent throughout the league. The James Hardin style of play has to be changed. If anything make it a one shot foul. My pet peeve has always been the leniency of traveling calls. Players are carrying the ball with them all over the court. What happened to one and half steps? Lastly, all of the begging and pleading has to be reined in. Players that bitch and moan to the refs all game need to get called for more technical fouls and fined. Displeasure is one thing but acting like spoiled baby is just wrong for all to see. Are we as fans happy about the current state of the officiating in the NBA? I have heard the gripes all season and it’s getting louder.
Image 1 – Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Image 2 – Kyle Terada USA Today Sports