Simple-minded people hurt NBA's reputation more than anything

Occasionally, you’ll see a dud game or a dud ref. But a game that’s nigh near impossible to call somehow gets well-called night after night, year after year.
by Berry Tramel Published: April 13, 2014
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photo - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference before the skills competition at the NBA All Star basketball weekend, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference before the skills competition at the NBA All Star basketball weekend, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Let me come clean right off the bat. NBA officiating is mostly fantastic.

I know, that brands me idiot or heretic. But since the NBA came to Oklahoma City in 2005, I’ve been blessed to sit virtually courtside for more than 200 games.

And when people ask why NBA officiating is so bad, I ask, how is NBA officiating so good? How do these guys discern between whether to blow the whistle or which way to blow it, literally every three seconds? How do they get so many calls correct when big, fast men continually collide at angles rarely conducive to a great view?

Occasionally, you’ll see a dud game or a dud ref. But a game that’s nigh near impossible to call somehow gets well-called night after night, year after year.

Which is why people like Sean Heath drive me nuts.

Heath is the Dallas Mavericks public-address announcer who tweeted out a series of rants after the Mavs lost to Golden State on April 1. Yes, the NBA later admitted, Jermaine O’Neal’s block of Monta Ellis’ shot with 16 seconds left should have been goal-tending. Yes, the Mavs should have taken a two-point lead. And when the Warriors’ Steph Curry nailed a basket at the buzzer, Dallas was handed a loss it perhaps didn’t deserve.

An unfortunate series of events. Not the 1972 Olympic basketball final. Not Colorado scoring on a fifth down. The refs that night had a tough call, made the call, play continued, the Warriors won and later it was determined the call should have gone Dallas’ way. Welcome to sports. Welcome to life.

Except people take defeat personally. One of Heath’s tweets proclaimed: “NBA, the ONLY professional league in the US with the reputation that the games are rigged. Know why? Because of games like tonight.”

The persecution complex of some people is a little overwhelming. Blaming officiating is for losers. Claiming officiating conspiracies is for the simple-minded.

Various reports say NBA commissioner Adam Silver wanted to suspend Heath from his microphone duties but settled for a $25,000 fine levied against the Mavs. Heath is not a full-time Maverick employee, so suspension would have been legally squishy.

Too bad. Silver’s thoughts are solid. Suspension would have been good. Banishment would have been better. Anyone who believes the NBA rigs games should not be involved with the league. Anyone who promotes the belief needs to move on down the road.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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