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The outside influence

Previously on WhatWouldWesleyDo: Just a Game

Right now, at this moment, after a 10-hour nap, shower and 2 hour nap, I am pissed. Not because my allergies are draining my very lifeforce or the fact have the I hives to prove it, but because of the NBA playoffs. Now for something like this I normally would have insta-blogged, but in this case I waited–that initial emotional response can be bad (if you don’t believe me check my Twitter feed). When I woke up I was still pissed so I figured I would get it out.

If you aren’t a fan of the NBA you may not know that there are quite a few conspiracy theories that hold weight in regards to the NBA. From players landing in certain large market cities for marketability (duh) and the revitalization of the league, to the referees pushing buttons to get certain late round match-ups, the  conspiracy theories hang over the head of the NBA more so than any professional sports venture (at least we KNOW wrestling is fixed). A lot of it has to do with star treatment, but then there is this seemingly blatant disregard for the intelligence of the fan at times only outshone by the even more obvious bad calls that rule the league.

Our friends... the refs.

Our friends... the refs.

This however, extends far beyond LeBron getting three free throws after a clean Dwight Howard blocked shot or inadvertent contact sending him to the line with .5 seconds left. I mean yeah, with calls like that it’s pretty hard to argue that the league doesn’t want LeBron in the Finals, but let’s look at the big picture.

Every game the officials seem to overreact to something, giving a technical foul to somebody that is later downgraded, assessing a flagrant foul on a good hard playoff foul. I can recall maybe two or three times where a play has been upgraded, but the vast majority have been downgrading of prominent, in-game calls. I understand the referees have a tough job and that they can’t get everything right, but c’mon. You may say, “if they fix it in the end then it doesn’t matter, right?”

Well take the Rockets/Lakers series. Ron Artest was ejected twice late game. One was rescinded, one wasn’t. Dwight Howard received his sixth technical for, emotion. As Jeff Van Gundy has so graciously pointed out numerous times this playoff season, there is an extremely arbitrary system in place that counts technicals, determines what are egregious penalties, and when they occur. (Edit: Van Gundy also mentioned that the arbitrary system punishes the teams that advance, as the totals acumulate and are not reset round to round… I’m not a fan of Van Gundy the coach, but he is the best analyst.) But that’s not the point… how can you T-up somebody and then realize later, oh well that wasn’t a good idea, and still feel like the integrity of the league wasn’t compromised.

Taking guys off the court undeservedly and then saying, “well, we got this wrong,” is bad, very bad. Even if there is only a small amount of time left on the clock and the lead seems insurmountable, taking a guy out of the game and then apologizing later after it has been reviewed and common sense prevails robs the teams of their competitive dignity. Other senseless rules such these arbitrary rules about leaving the bench, bouncing the ball in anger, what constitutes a technical foul, etc., also seem like terrible punchlines in a big joke being played on NBA fans.

What isn’t a joke is how the Orlando Magic have handled that. I remember back in the heyday of the Sacramento Kings, when they were getting jobbed by some of the same officials that still terrorize this league and how the officials were one of the main topics of the series. The analysts weren’t so forgiving of the Kings being disadvantaged 5 on 8 saying something to the effect that you don’t complain about the refs and you have to have more resolve than succumbing to the referee excuse.

After playing in a tournament up at Ohio State back in March, I really started to understand playing through the officiating. We weren’t better than the other teams, but we could have showed better, instead we had a “coach” telling us it was the refs’ fault… even though it was one guy charged with officiating the whole court. In regards to the Kings, they were clearly the better team,however they still lost because they didn’t get past the officiating.

I present exhibit A:

The Missing Link... kinda

The missing link... kinda

Hidayet “Hido/Hedo” Turkoglu was a part of the 2002 Sacramento Kings that was literally robbed by the officials, giving the Los Angeles Lakers their shot at a championship… Tim Donaghy thinks so at least.

In losing that series, I would probably venture to say that is where Hedo gained the experience that makes him so dangerous down stretch. The last couple years in the 4th quarter regular season he has been among the league leading closers, and this year with the Magic he has taken it to another level on as close to the big stage as you can get, without actually being on the big stage, that is. The other part that makes the Magic exciting to watch beyond their ability to play past the terrible officiating:

How Rashard got to be clutch

How Rashard got to be clutch

Rashard Lewis, the guy on the right was the last true Seattle Supersonic. When he was allowed to walk out and go to Orlando, it was pretty clear the fate of the team… but that’s neither here nor there. Rashard was drafted in the second round after leaving early. It was literally the saddest thing seeing him wait to be picked on draft day, eventually going 32nd overall to the Sonics.

In his time as a Sonic, he started down the maturation process that got him to knocking down shots in the clutch spot. He got to watch/play alongside a couple of future NBA Hall of Famers (Payton, and Allen) while they could still do work, also spending a season with another Hall of Famer, albeit in the severely diminished form of Patrick Ewing. Now that he is in Orlando he is really showing what he has learned and how much better he is.

I may not have a team anymore but the league is still good and worth watching, even though those striped (not really, but refs are stereotyped as striped shirted guys) goons of David Stern are doing their part to make things otherwise.

Oh one more thing… Michael F. Jordan is jealous of the calls LeBron is getting.

Hey Steve (Javey) can I get that call?

Hey Steve (Javey) can I get that call?

Salute

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