Thursday, June 14, 2012

NBA Finals: Key Uncalled Foul in Final Seconds of Game 2

Game 2 of the NBA Finals came to a rough end as Thunder forward Kevin Durant unsuccessfully attempted a score with 11 seconds remaining in regulations. As far as video breakdowns go, this one is pretty simple.

It was a foul (Incorrect Call), as video evidence conclusively demonstrates B6 using his left arm to alter and impede W35. Ever the loyal soldier, retired referee Steve Javie did his best to explain the call to a national audience.

Javie correctly surmised that the lead official Tom Washington had a poor angle with which to see the illegal contact, and therefore, the offending arm-bar, clamp and hack were all missed, unseen by the closest man with a whistle.

ESPN gave Javie about 30 seconds of air time Thursday night, just long enough to discuss position adjustments, angles and—without directly saying it—admit that Washington was straightlined for that crucial play.

By virtue of its position relative to the game clock, any controversial call that occurs in the final two minutes will be magnified; any apparent miss in the final 24 seconds will become a mountain and more importantly, will set off that ever-popular firestorm of "the referee cost my team the game," neglecting turnovers, shooting percentages and missed plays that might have led up to the barn-burning loss.

So when a reporter asked Durant his thoughts on that final play, Durant would have been factually correct to declare his disagreement with the no-call. Instead, Durant took the high road and classily dismissed the notion:

"Are you saying you don't think you got mugged by LeBron on that last don't think you were fouled?"
"I missed the shot, man."

Ah, postseason professional basketball—a term that might as well go hand in hand with officiating critique.

For Oklahoma City fans, there was a controversial goaltending call that appeared to be the incorrect call as the ball was below rim-height and on its downward flight when it was blocked off the glass.

For Miami fans, there was a blocking foul on Shane Battier on a play that could have resulted in Durant picking up his sixth personal on an offensive foul, which would have rendered that game-ending play a moot point. Battier was firming up as Durant left the ground as an airborn shooter—whether Battier had legal guarding position depends on what part of the country you ask. In the heart of OKC, Battier might as well have been in the middle of the restricted area when contact occured—in Miami, he was an absolute statue below the free throw line.

Of all sports, basketball's officials might have the most difficult assignment in discerning those areas of grey, especially in establishing the delicate balance between offensive and defensive fouls.

So how did the officials do Thursday night?

It all depends on your specific tint of spectacles.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for mentioning the blocking foul on Battier that not only prevented Durant from fouling out, but put him on the free throw line for points. ESPN has been running with the final play all night but no mention of the Durant Charge/Battier Block. Nice to see both sides of the story being told here.

Anonymous said...

Referees no-call that Durant play in the 1st quarter, we don't hear about it ever again, perhaps in a passing note, but it's not a big deal. Referees no-call that same play with 10.5 seconds left in what was then a 2-point game, it's front page news. In my opinion, Durant fouled out already (several times, no?) and OKC should have had that goaltending call retracted.

In summation, both sides got screwed enough that in the end, it balanced out.

Anonymous said...

It says, "Heat forward Kevin Durant". It should be: "Thunder forward Kevin Durant".

Anonymous said...

This instance is a perfect example of why we need referees and umpires to correct one another at the time of a missed or blown call. If I hear another official say, "Well, we just want to get the call right," I am going to be sick. Then correct a fellow official if you saw it better. Get a concensus from the crew, whatever, just don't sit there and think it is not "PC" to correct your co-worker. How can people sit there and say, "Well, it evened out, so it's fair in my book." What is the rationale behind, "Well, let's not forget that they had other chances to win." Seriously? In my book, anything that happens after a blown call is on the officials. If Durant should have been out, the game is affected by the blown call from that point forward. The Heat should not have had to deal with him after that point. Yes, the official may be human, but if two other human's saw it who have the ability to make it right, then it should be made right. Asking professional athletes to "compensate" for poor officiating is not fair. I don't care if they make $2 billion a year. If officals are there to "get it right," then do your job like we are asking the athletes to do.

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