The National Basketball Association (NBA) has admitted to several missed calls during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 95-93 overtime win over the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 NBA Finals on June 7.
Here we go again.
If you recall, the league also admitted its referees got several calls wrong during Game 4 of the second-round series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls last month.
That was the game LeBron James hit that fadeaway shot from the corner at the buzzer to give the Cavs the improbable two-point victory on May 10.
LeBron James Game-Winner Buzzer Beater | Cavaliers vs Bulls | NBA 2015 http://t.co/62GMM6jCP5
— Ferg (@MikeFerg15) June 4, 2015
Prior to James’ shot, Cleveland had 1.5 seconds to get a shot off. The four-time NBA MVP drove to the basket and was met by Bulls center Joakim Noah. On May 11, Akron Beacon Journal Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer Jason Lloyd tweeted the NBA confessed to its error:
League’s daily officiating report notes Blatt’s timeout error, but also concedes Noah should’ve been called for foul with 1.9 secs left — Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) May 11, 2015
This means if the officials called Noah for the foul, James would have trooped to the charity stripe for two shots as Chicago was already in the bonus.
On the other hand, if the referees had gotten the call right, we never would have seen LBJ’s buzzer beater.
The league also admitted to several referee errors during Game 3 of the Cavaliers vs. Bulls second-round series, per CavsNation.com’s Tomer Azarly.
A month later, the NBA publicly admitted referees Zach Zarba, Scott Foster and Tony Brothers made several crucial mistakes during the last two minutes of Game 2 between the Cavs and Warriors, per ESPN.
— ESPN (@espn) June 9, 2015
The league said a foul should have been called on Golden State guard Andre Iguodala as LeBron James went up for a shot. However, the ESPN update says the NBA also admitted James should have been called for traveling before he shot the basketball because he lifted his pivot foot.
Less than a minute later, the referees also failed to call a foul on Warriors small forward Draymond Green when he held James by the shoulder as he went up during a jump-ball situation, per ESPN.
The NBA also said the officials should have called Green for a foul as he clipped Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson on the arm during the overtime tip-off, per ESPN. James chimed in on the missed calls in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday:
I know what happened throughout the course of the game, so nothing really goes through my mind (when hearing about the review). There’s nothing they can do about it at that point. It is what it is, and you just move on from it. I’m happy that we were able to come through with the win. That’s the only thing that matters.
His head coach, David Blatt, voiced his displeasure over the blown calls during Game 2. He told ESPN on June 9 he saw all of them, but declined to comment further.
Blatt also said he’s confident the NBA will be able to handle the matter, per ESPN. None of the three referees who worked Game 2 were assigned for Game 3 on June 10.
The ESPN update says Danny Crawford, Marc Davis and Derrick Stafford were the officials tapped for Game 3.
Even without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs beat the Warriors, 96-91, on Tuesday to take a 2-1 series lead. James continued his postseason tear with 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead Cleveland.
Aussie guard Matthew Dellavedova, who helped keep 2014-15 NBA MVP Stephen Curry in check in Game 2, finished with 20 points for the Cavaliers in Game 3, per ESPN.
The Final Say
Referees are human. They make mistakes just like everybody else. But for them to make those mistakes during crucial junctures of the NBA playoffs is really uncalled for.
Give referees credit. Their job isn’t easy. The best of the lot work almost 100 games—regular season and playoffs— every year.
Trying to get a call right while players are in constant motion is easier said than done. Ditto for dealing with temperamental players and coaches who disagree with their judgment.
And don’t forget the fans—officials are on the receiving end of endless taunts and insults if they get a call wrong.
If we also consider the constant travel they do plus the emotional turmoil they have to endure during the season, we can safely say you really have to have guts if you want to officiate in any professional sports league.
However, getting a call wrong is one thing. Making several of them during the NBA playoffs—on the world’s biggest basketball stage, no less—tells us something is amiss here.
Perhaps it is the training. Adam Silver must confer with his head of officiating during the offseason to shore up their training program. He and the league’s officials afford to embarrass themselves with another admission of referee error.
This has gone too far.
Adam Silver should seriously reprimand those referees for their questionable calls during this series.
— THE BASIC GOD! (@SkippyKevin) June 10, 2015
If the same referee’s mistakes add up during the course of the season, he should be severely reprimanded. A suspension, whose number of games depends on the severity of the error, ought to suffice.
It is during times like these we miss guys such as Dick Bavetta and Earl Strom. When it comes to NBA referees, these two were probably the best the league has ever had.
It’s also a shame these referee’s missed calls are overshadowing great NBA storylines such as Curry’s MVP season, James’ playoff tear and Dellavedova’s rise out of nowhere.
All we can hope for is for the madness to stop much sooner than later.