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O.J. Mayo’s Controversial Save

by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 10, 2011

There was tons of talk about a sequence in the first overtime session last night.

Folks were freaking out about the O.J. Mayo play where he saved the ball by throwing it off of James Harden. From what I gather, the general consensus from Thunder fans is the ball shouldn’t have been awarded back to Memphis because Mayo was out of bounds before jumping in the air to retrieve the rock. There are still photos that prove Mayo had stepped out. Apparently, TNT’s replay also clearly showed Mayo had stepped out.

Now, the play is water under the bridge because the Thunder won. But it could have been a huge difference-maker. After Harden blocked a baseline jumper by Mayo, the Grizzlies’ guard tried to recover the loose ball. Mayo eventually skied to try to save it, but his momentum was carrying him out of bounds. Still, Mayo managed to recover the rock and throw it off Harden. But his right foot was out of the field of play just before he touched the ball. He didn’t re-establish position beforehand. That would constitute a violation. Instead, Memphis maintained possession and eventually got a 3-pointer by Mayo to pull within 107-104 with 1:13 left in the extra period. The sequence helped the Grizzles surge to an 8-2 run and force a second overtime.

A day later, some fans want to know why the Grizzlies were awarded the ball even after the officials conducted a video review to determine who the ball was out on.

Two things: 1) I couldn’t see it live from my seat. 2) I’m almost positive refs can’t make a ruling in that fashion.

In other words, once a play is under video review, unseen actions that weren’t in question can’t be examined. Wrongs can’t be righted in a sense. For example, if Harden had shoved the holy ghost out of Mayo while he was in mid-air, and it just so happened to go uncalled, the refs couldn’t then add a foul to Harden following video review in addition to making their ruling on who owned possession. Make sense? Of course not. But that’s the rules. Or so I think. I very well could be wrong about how the rules would apply in this particular case. But I believe it’s sort of like how certain aspects of NFL games aren’t eligible to be reviewed during challenges.

At any rate, I’ve put in a request to the league to get clarification on the call. Hopefully, I can get something official about that sequence to help better explain why the refs didn’t overturn the call and award possession to the Thunder.


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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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