Let me bring you into my cell phone Wednesday night. If you followed the Bucks-Lakers game there was a charge/block called a block involving Kobe Bryant running into Andrew Bogut. Here are some samples of text’s I received after said play:
9:50:54 – “Never watching the NBA again”
9:49:59 – “(Expletive) (Expletive) call on that bogut block against kobe, (Expletive) refs takin care of the stars that’s why I just can’t get into the nba”
9:47:51 – “…and Kobe came down before the shot so it definitely shouldn’t have counted”
9:51:12 – “anyone surprised with that cuz I’m not”
And then we have the collective response from multiple members of the Bucks.
“No comment, I don’t want to give any money to the league.”
It’s frustrating to have to explain to people why I like the NBA sometimes. You never have to explain why you like football or baseball. But I constantly find myself having to defend the NBA and even occasionally convincing myself that the supposed biases are purely reactionaries making things up. But when I see a ref ham it up and turn up the theatrics when he makes the sign for the block call, I get a little frustrated. When it appears a ref is trying to decide how he can make a call without looking too ridiculous and take 15 or so seconds to figure it out, I get a little frustrated. In fact, I get so frustrated that I start to see the other side a little more clearly.
And what makes me shake my head the most is how I had convinced myself overtime would not be like the majority of the rest of the game. I saw things flowing with more ease at the start of overtime and thought, “Okay, the Bucks earned the right to compete in this one. Things are evening out, there may have been slight bias earlier (I still wasn’t totally ready to admit it, a lot of calls probably could have been defended), but now they’re recognizing that this is about baskets not markets.” I really believed that. But that call. That call ruined this one for me and furthered the disillusion amongst my already skeptic friends.
And I know I sound like a complainer, but I promise I’m not. It was just so blatantly clear that this game was ridiculous. Obviously the Lakers will always shoot more free throws than the Bucks, they get inside and attack the hoop as apart of their game plan and the Bucks shoot three’s, a free throw discrepancy is to be expected. But the little things the refs did were ridiculous. When it was becoming obvious that the Lakers were reaping the officiating benefits, the refs issued a horrific technical foul on Lamar Odom. Odom protested a call, but all he did was swipe his hands in disgust. Bucks players did that repeatedly and protested with significantly more vigor. But now the Lakers had two technical fouls and the Bucks got another free throw. On paper it looks much better.
Let’s be honest, we all believe a lot of what Tim Donaghy had to say. Not all of his facts are accurate and I’m sure he’s embellished on a lot, but it’s not like he just pulled this stuff out of no where. We’re not idiots and I think it’s safe to assume David Stern and company aren’t either. They can’t possibly think he’s fabricating every detail of his stories, can they? We’ve all long suspected lots of things he’s accused the NBA of to be true, even before the scandal broke. So is the league really turning a blind eye to all of this and doing nothing to at least APPEAR to be unbiased? Does the league desire the Lakers to challenge the 72 win mark for the publicity it would bring? I can’t do much but shake my head right now.
So way to go NBA. You’ve done your best tonight to bum out the Bucks biggest audience of the year and probably scare many of them away for who knows how long. Nice.