The NBA underwent a power shift during the offseason, as commissioner David Stern delegated more power to the referees, giving them the authority to deliver a technical foul if a player complains about a call.
Since then, players have been forced to keep their emotions in check after any type of physical play. The Boston Celtics learned this lesson early on, as they watched both Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal collect technical fouls during the preseason after reacting to a referee’s whistle, or lack thereof.
A recent matchup between the Lakers and Suns saw a perfect example of this system. Forward Lamar Odom was fouled by Hedo Turkoglu as he was going in for a layup in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The referees missed the call, but didn’t miss Odom’s loud reaction and served him with a technical that sent Steve Nash to the line. The momentum was lost for the Lakers, and they went on to lose the game by five points.
In Boston, a Lakers loss is normally celebrated, but this incident goes beyond the time-honored rivalry. Is the referee’s elevated authority affecting the game? How do you think the refereeing has gone so far this season in the NBA?
You could see the positive side of this recent decision by Stern, since a player’s reaction — which can be obnoxious to watch — can have a drag effect on a game. That effect was one of the primary reasons behind Stern’s new rule.
Or you could see the negative side of the decision, which pertains to the heightened level of authority given to the refs. Sure, they’re in charge of calling the game, but giving out a technical — which then results in a free throw — after every complaint is just as time consuming.
Then there’s the issue of ticky-tack fouls, which seem to be worsening with every season. Stern’s “Respect the Game” movement seems to be triggering more whistles than ever before, leading to a longer lag during the game than a player complaining about a call.
Basketball is a game of movement, transition and speed, and slowing it down to avoid a few hissy fits seems like a counterproductive move.
What do you think about the NBA referees this season? Share your thoughts below.
Friday, Nov. 19: Will any NBA team ever match or surpass the 1986 Celtics’ 40-1 home record?