Monday, June 7

NBA Officiating: Changes Should Be Made

With another Finals game dotted with questionable foul calls, it's time for Commissioner Stern to consider an unprecedented shift in policy. Basketball places demands on its officials largely unmatched by other sports, but the biggest issue lies with the inconsistency that plagues the NBA more than other sports. While many have dismissed former referee Tim Donaghy's claims about games being fixed, his regular appearances on Dan Patrick's national radio show illustrates that to some the questions and possibilities still percolate. David Stern has attempted to close ranks, declaring Donaghy a "rogue official" but with lingering doubts, confused fans, and most importantly perplexed players and coaches he and the League would be best served to consider a new course of action.

Much of the interactions between the sports leagues and their officials is shrouded in secrecy. For most leagues, it has not caused any issues, but while criticism in other leagues is almost exclusively limited to focusing on the officials themselves (think Phil Luckett and Joe West), but when NBA officials mess up people view it as a sign of a larger issue or conspiracy.

A possible solution to this recurring issue would be transparency. Allow the fans, media, and teams behind the curtain. Daily correspondence between the league and officials could be made available online. Tweaks to the points of emphasis even within a series should be known by all interested parties. The League would not have to make known individual critiques towards specific officials, but at the end of the year a performance review would be. Now if Yao Ming gets called for moving screens midway through a series it's not a conspiracy it's a known criticism that the NBA has made the officials aware of. As long as the officiating mirrored the communications, it would provide all parties explanations that currently are lacking.

NBA officiating remains plagued by several problems including the re-enforcing of flopping (both physical and verbal) as a way to induce a call, the increased physicality of the game and an aging core of officials. The best solution for the sport would be to address these issues, but allowing outsiders a peek behind the curtain, in such a way that would not embarrass the refs, would certainly be a step in the right direction.

1 comment:

Cleet said...

Seriously, such a good idea I'm sure it will never happen.