Refs gone wild: a place to complain about NBA referees and propose solutions to improving officiating

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
After another unnecessary ejection of a Celtics star (Jaylen Brown’s first career ejection) I thought it might be good to start a thread where complaints about NBA refs could be consolidated.

Personally, I have always felt that basketball’s biggest flaw is that accurate officiating is an impossible challenge. The game is too fast and the rules too vague; as a result officials are unable to consistently identify rule violations in real time. The officiating error that results is so common that it can be easily argued that most close games are decided within what could be called an “officiating margin of error”.
This flaw, inevitably, also leads to an inordinate amount of complaints from players, which -unfortunately - leads to technical violations and ejections which only compounds the games inherent, officiating problem. After all, the effect of these technicals and ejections also impacts scores and rosters and this only increases the referee’s influence on wins and losses.
It is this second issue that I believe could be most easily addressable through rule changes, though this is admittedly not the current direction of the league. In fact, the trend appears to be towards empowering the refs to call even more techs which has led to more ejections. This, unfortunately, has only resulted in an increasing influence of officiating on game results.
From this perspective, things like Jaylen Brown’s ejection (when he apparently made a gesture from the bench) last night and Giannis Antetokoumpo’s odd ejection last month ( after he looked in the direction of an opposing player after a dunk) are problems that need to be addressed by the league. I would also add to this the recent trend of giving technicals for hanging on the rim too long, something that is particularly maddening as hanging on the rim too long naturally results in players being out of defensive position and could instead be seen as already “regulated” by natural consequence.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post on a different thread, I personally think that best solution to this issue is to shift game conditions so that these type of natural consequences are more likely, and move away from emphasizing the unnatural and more subjective influence of referees to moderate player behavior.
After all, over-calling technicals stops the flow of the game and can lead to the loss of key players at key moments. Instead, when players complain the refs should shift their focus to restarting the action of the game ASAP, making it more likely that that complaining players will be out of position for the next play. On a basic level this could be done by the ref making an effort to walk away from a complaining player while another ref makes sure that the fouled player initiates free throw shooting as soon as possible. The key is that the focus of the referee needs to shift from “maintaining order” to “maintaining game flow”, something that is also clearly better for the viewer.
To facilitate this, it might very well be necessary to establish more concrete rules to facilitate better game flow and increased natural consequences, particularly after foul calls (which is when most complaints occur).
For example, for shooting fouls maybe a free throw clock would help (requiring free throw shooting to begin within some amount of seconds from the foul). For non-shooting fouls an inbound clock could limit how much time a team has to initiate the inbound play after the call. While these rules would still need to be regulated through technicals, these would be objectively enforceable (unlike most current technicals) as they would be a simple result of a player being out of position by a set time. In a sense, this would be similar to how the NFL regulates these issues, in that players are often too busy running back and forth from the sidelines to maintain any sustained complaints.
 

JoeSuit

New Member
Feb 9, 2017
71
shift from “maintaining order” to “maintaining game flow”

That's a really good start. Twenty years from now there will be multiple ultra Hi-def cameras and AI making the calls unemotionally.
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
Seems like main topic of the Celtics 23-24 thread continues to be NBA officiating - which is what I expected after yesterday’s ridiculous ejection of Jaylen Brown.
I had hoped creating this new thread would allow for that topic to be given its own lane, which would be better for both discussions.
Of course I’m not a mod and have no way of moving on-going discussions here. Is there a mod willing to do that?
 
Last edited:

Tony C

Moderator
Moderator
SoSH Member
Apr 13, 2000
13,676
I’ve fully been on the “refs need to chill” bandwagon, but between Green last night and the really silly roughhousing between the Bucks and Pacers tonight, along with the post-game tunnel fracas, maybe there’s something to be said for having refs just lay down the law for a bit. Not to equate Jokic’s mfer comment to the other incidents - obviously not — but I guess I am feeling a bit of the old man yelling at the clouds “just play ball” thing.

I’ll get over it soon.
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
Jokic was ejected without warning for saying "Call the foul, motherf---er." Not even a first technical beforehand. Even the Bulls fans booed the ejection. This is getting out of hand. Refs suffering from Napoleon complex. Silver needs to address this. It's hurting the product.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/39101440/nikola-jokic-ejected-vs-bulls-drawing-boos-chicago-crowd
That’s ridiculous. It was in the first half too. I’d say Silver needs to do something but this is getting bad enough that you have to wonder if it’s what he wants. Other than threats of violence no player should get kicked out for saying something to a ref.
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
I’ve fully been on the “refs need to chill” bandwagon, but between Green last night and the really silly roughhousing between the Bucks and Pacers tonight, along with the post-game tunnel fracas, maybe there’s something to be said for having refs just lay down the law for a bit. Not to equate Jokic’s mfer comment to the other incidents - obviously not — but I guess I am feeling a bit of the old man yelling at the clouds “just play ball” thing.

I’ll get over it soon.
Violence between players is an entirely separate issue though. You can’t allow violence -either between players or directed at refs or fans.
Saying something to a ref while your running down the court is not at all the same. The refs aren’t paid to protect their pride, they are paid to officiate the game. They make well into the six figures for a half-a-year job. They can always quit if it’s too much stress for them..
 

Tony C

Moderator
Moderator
SoSH Member
Apr 13, 2000
13,676
Violence between players is an entirely separate issue though. You can’t allow violence -either between players or directed at refs or fans.
Saying something to a ref while your running down the court is not at all the same. The refs aren’t paid to protect their pride, they are paid to officiate the game. They make well into the six figures for a half-a-year job. They can always quit if it’s too much stress for them..
You’re basically correct.
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
You’re basically correct.
Yeah, I think the key distinction is the motivation. Refs can easily step in and tech guys for fighting and there is no question that they are doing what they were hired to do. But when they rush to toss out a two time MVP in the 2nd quarter, they look thin-skinned and unprofessional.
And I get it, a lot of people can’t handle that type of treatment, which is fine, not everyone is suited for every job. But this is the friggin NBA, there is no excuse for not being able to find officials that are not only qualified to make calls, but are temperamentally appropriate for the position.
I work in mental health, and am often tasked with dealing with personality disordered clients who engage in provocative or insulting behaviors, and it’s my job to respond professionally and in accordance with my training. It is not my job to use any position of authority my role gives me to punish these clients for disrespecting me, and if I were to make a practice of doing that I wouldn’t deserve to be retained in my position.
 

PC Drunken Friar

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 12, 2003
14,485
South Boston
That’s ridiculous. It was in the first half too. I’d say Silver needs to do something but this is getting bad enough that you have to wonder if it’s what he wants. Other than threats of violence no player should get kicked out for saying something to a ref.
It was also on Serbian Heritage Night. Things I learned yesterday is that Chicago is the #2 city in the world in regards to Serbian population.
 

lars10

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
11,330
Yeah, I think the key distinction is the motivation. Refs can easily step in and tech guys for fighting and there is no question that they are doing what they were hired to do. But when they rush to toss out a two time MVP in the 2nd quarter, they look thin-skinned and unprofessional.
And I get it, a lot of people can’t handle that type of treatment, which is fine, not everyone is suited for every job. But this is the friggin NBA, there is no excuse for not being able to find officials that are not only qualified to make calls, but are temperamentally appropriate for the position.
I work in mental health, and am often tasked with dealing with personality disordered clients who engage in provocative or insulting behaviors, and it’s my job to respond professionally and in accordance with my training. It is not my job to use any position of authority my role gives me to punish these clients for disrespecting me, and if I were to make a practice of doing that I wouldn’t deserve to be retained in my position.
I thought he was making a your vs you’re joke

Edit: has a player been tossed in other sports for language? Baseball for sure.. but hockey or football or soccer? The impact of throwing out one of the top five players in an nba game is massive in how it changes the game.
 
Last edited:

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
30,170
Yeah, I think the key distinction is the motivation. Refs can easily step in and tech guys for fighting and there is no question that they are doing what they were hired to do. But when they rush to toss out a two time MVP in the 2nd quarter, they look thin-skinned and unprofessional.
And I get it, a lot of people can’t handle that type of treatment, which is fine, not everyone is suited for every job. But this is the friggin NBA, there is no excuse for not being able to find officials that are not only qualified to make calls, but are temperamentally appropriate for the position.
I work in mental health, and am often tasked with dealing with personality disordered clients who engage in provocative or insulting behaviors, and it’s my job to respond professionally and in accordance with my training. It is not my job to use any position of authority my role gives me to punish these clients for disrespecting me, and if I were to make a practice of doing that I wouldn’t deserve to be retained in my position.
I dunno. I mean I don't know what goes on during a NBA game and have no idea what refs tolerate or punish, but I can see how a league wouldn't want its players to be able to call a ref a MFer. And it shouldn't be that hard for players to refrain from doing this.

I mean, attack the call, not the caller. :)
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
I dunno. I mean I don't know what goes on during a NBA game and have no idea what refs tolerate or punish, but I can see how a league wouldn't want its players to be able to call a ref a MFer. And it shouldn't be that hard for players to refrain from doing this.
I mean, attack the call, not the caller. :)
So give the guy a technical.
To rush to throw out the one player everyone in the building paid to see is absurd. I mean, Jesus. Does the league care about its fans, or is protecting the egos of their refs a more important goal?
The refs needs to recognize that taking some abuse is part of the paycheck and if they are too sensitive to accept that I’m sure the league can find someone else to fill the role that isn’t.
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
Rule14c:
"To overturn a challenged event or to change the outcome of a reviewable matter via a Challenge, there must be clear and conclusive visual evidence that the initial adjudication of that aspect of the play was incorrect."

76337
So yeah, WTF? Does anyone anywhere think there was clear and conclusive visual evidence that the original call was incorrect? If anything there was clear and conclusive evidence that it was correct (which isn't even required). In this pic there is clearly space between Hield's hand and the ball while Hield's arm is already in contact with Jaylen's head. Buddy Hield also reportedly told Mazzulla that he thought that he fouled Brown.
And the fact that they didn't confirm this with the 2-minute report just makes this even more ridiculous. Seriously, this should not happen and if for some reason it does, the NBA shouldn't try to pretend they didn't fuck up...
 
Last edited:

CoffeeNerdness

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 6, 2012
8,653
This is a solid rant from the Darko Rajaković. "It's a complete crap" cracked me up. 23 FT for the Lakers in the 4th, good grief.

View: https://streamable.com/fklvbb

(Oops already being talked about in the general NBA thread, but I'll leave this here regardless since my man is clearly airing some grievances over the state of NBA reffing)
 

PedroKsBambino

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 17, 2003
30,903
Rule14c:
"To overturn a challenged event or to change the outcome of a reviewable matter via a Challenge, there must be clear and conclusive visual evidence that the initial adjudication of that aspect of the play was incorrect."

View attachment 76337
So yeah, WTF? Does anyone anywhere think there was clear and conclusive visual evidence that the original call was incorrect? If anything there was clear and conclusive evidence that it was correct (which isn't even required). In this pic there is clearly space between Hield's hand and the ball while Hield's arm is already in contact with Jaylen's head. Buddy Hield also reportedly told Mazzulla that he thought that he'd fouled Brown.
And the fact that they didn't confirm this with the 2-minute report just makes this even more ridiculous. Seriously, this should not happen and if for some reason it does, the NBA shouldn't try to pretend they didn't fuck up...
Thanks for posting---that's the picture I saw yesterday and referenced in the 23-24 thread as showing pretty definitively that the idea the contact with the ball was first is simply insupportable. You can't really even credibly argue simultaneous (which is not what league claimed).

One does wonder about the purpose of L2M when they do things like this - in theory, I really appreciate the effort towards transparency of L2M, but for that to be valuable and not Goodell-esque dishonest spin you actually need to be willing to say you got tough things wrong. Presumably, they realized yesterday that the replay center not only blew this one, but overruled a correct call on the court while doing so, and decided it was better to lie about it than admit it. A cynical person might even believe they highlighted the two blown calls that hurt the Celtics on the subsequent play to acknoweldge they were wronged without admitting the replay center blew it in real-time. That is, to be kind, not the kind of choice that helps the league in the long-term...
 

Deathofthebambino

Drive Carefully
SoSH Member
Apr 12, 2005
41,686
I think the clearest evidence of it being a foul was the reaction of the players. The guy who was fronting Brown and contesting, and didn't make contact immediately went into "I didn't touch him mode." IIRC, I haven't seen the replay in a bit, Hield immediately put his hands on his head. He knew he fouled him.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
29,820
I think the clearest evidence of it being a foul was the reaction of the players. The guy who was fronting Brown and contesting, and didn't make contact immediately went into "I didn't touch him mode." IIRC, I haven't seen the replay in a bit, Hield immediately put his hands on his head. He knew he fouled him.
I've talked about this before in my conversations with refs back when I played. They can't see everything at game speed and rely on things like players reactions to give them clues as to what the correct call is. In this case, as you said, it is clear Heild knew he fouled him. I've had a ref tell me that many times he doesn't see who the ball goes out of bounds off and relies on their instinctual action. The problem with this in the NBA is that the players know this so they almost always act as if it's their ball.
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
11,710
That double foul was completely insane. They are literally just making things up as they go. (It was a block, fwiw: Towns beat Brissett to the spot, and Brissett shifted at the end to stay in front)
 

TomRicardo

rusty cohlebone
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Feb 6, 2006
20,533
Row 14
Silver needs to tighten shit up league wide. There have been some really bad calls all week that have determined games. They are starting to have to pave over the problems in L2M to which I assume to keep their new friends in the gambling industry at bay.

You can't haver a week like this in June.
 

Bunt Single

New Member
Aug 11, 2010
116
Interesting to contemplate how legal gambling may be affecting the issue. Does it increase the possibilities for referee collusion? Does it intensify public attention on the possibility? Ot certainly heightens the stakes pun!)...
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
30,170
Jay King interviews Steve Javie on officiating here: https://theathletic.com/5194233/2024/01/11/nba-referees-officiating-rajakovic/. One personal anecdote from the other side of the equation:

As irritated as players grow following a late-game missed call, Javie illustrated how the other side of the situation also isn’t fun. Early in his career, he said he botched a last-second call in two consecutive games. Both times, he said he “put air in the whistle when fouls weren’t there.” After the first game, he said he experienced a restless night because he felt like he cost a team the game.
“And then two nights later I go out and I do it again,” Javie said. “And my crew chief, I get in the locker room and he’s looking at me like I have nine heads, like, ‘Didn’t you learn anything from the other night?’ My head’s in my hands going, ‘I can’t believe I did this.’ So it was obviously a sleepless week.
“But I remember the very next game comes and, of course, just as the basketball gods would have it, it goes right down to the wire again and it’s like a one-point game with 10 seconds left and the team’s taking it out. And it was the first time in my career, here comes the ball towards me in my area and I’m just saying to myself, ‘Get it out of my area. I don’t want anything to do with this call.’ Luckily the ball swings on the other side of the court, something happens and I just exhaled like, ‘Thank God I didn’t have to make any kind of call because I just kicked the s— out of it.’ So it just taught me that there was a lack of concentration on my part and not to guess at all. We shouldn’t be guessing at any time of the game, especially in the last seconds of the game that can cost somebody the game.”
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI
Simultaneous fouls have been in the rule book for as long as I can remember. They are rare though.
Really? Like this? Even Scal says he’s never seen it. Here’s what I get when I look up the definition of a simultaneous foul:
“A simultaneous foul (personal or technical) by opponents is a situation in which there is a foul by both teams which occurs at approximately the same time, but are not committed by opponents against each other.”
Notice that last line. That is what is mystifying about this case. Clearly these “fouls” were committed by opponents against each other. We aren’t talking about a foul happening at the very same moment by two different players on different sides of the court. It’s the same friggin play. There is just no way the same play can be both a charge and a block. Makes no sense..
 

Euclis20

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2004
7,774
Imaginationland
Listening to the Minnesota broadcast, they said that in this specific instance (where two officials call opposing fouls, and neither wants to change their mind) the remedy is to call a double foul and a jump ball. This seems slightly different than what typically happens with double fouls, where there are two separate fouls and each are called. This is like when the ball goes out of bounds and the refs can't decide who to give it to, so they call a jump ball. That we do occasionally see, the only difference here is that the players involved also receive personal fouls.

I've never seen it before, but I'm fine with the logic. What else could you do when two officials disagree and neither wants to back down (and presumably the third ref cannot function as a tiebreaker)?
 

benhogan

Granite Truther
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
19,763
Santa Monica
What else could you do when two officials disagree and neither wants to back down (and presumably the third ref cannot function as a tiebreaker)?
They should have an eye in the sky to make a quick tiebreaker decision.
But we all know that's not how Secaucus/the NBA works

This replay center break is brought to you by FanBets
 

Over Guapo Grande

panty merchant
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2005
4,394
Worcester
Do I have this right:

If a coach challenges, all parts of the play are able to be examined. I think we saw this earlier this year where Tatum had a layup blocked on a fast break and it was called a foul. After a review, that foul was negated (it would have been the 3rd on...lets say Embiid) but Tatum's arm was hit as he was going up, so the foul was called on the trailer.

But for Secaucus-initiated challenges, only that one particular piece can be looked at?
 

nighthob

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
12,634
Is it just me or is Tommy Thibs looking like a Russian gangster these days?
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,776
Honolulu HI

Jimbodandy

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 31, 2006
11,192
around the way
Yeah good to see them own it.

If that contact happens in a second quarter on a 10foot turnaround, nobody would have cared that much if a foul was called. But from that distance in a last second scenario, it was an egregious miss.

P.s. I do get disappointed when I see Ed Malloy at a game. For all the Scott Foster and Zach Zarba ribbing, I'd prefer those guys generally.
 

jmcc5400

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 29, 2000
5,126
Yeah good to see them own it.

If that contact happens in a second quarter on a 10foot turnaround, nobody would have cared that much if a foul was called. But from that distance in a last second scenario, it was an egregious miss.
Yeah. It was a bad call, but the histrionics I saw online last night made it seem like it was a historically bad call. There indisputably was contact with the shooter - I'm not even sure that call in your second quarter scenario gets overturned on review (even if it should be).
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 24, 2002
47,687
Yeah. It was a bad call, but the histrionics I saw online last night made it seem like it was a historically bad call. There indisputably was contact with the shooter - I'm not even sure that call in your second quarter scenario gets overturned on review (even if it should be).
The growth of gambling makes it feel like the takes around athletic contests are so much more toxic.

Fans are always big mad when officiating goes against their team but its another thing when some ref is messing with your money.

There should be a congressional investigation into how these games are called!!
 

snowmanny

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 8, 2005
15,563
Yeah. That's a fairly bad call in a spot they often let stuff go. I'd be upset if they called it on the Celtics, but more because I've seen them let more-than-incidental contact go in that situation so many times.

I actually don't buy the crap about the contact being after the ball was released. Disrupting the release in a way that inevitably will lead to contact should be a foul, and is often called a foul.
 

the moops

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 19, 2016
4,574
Saint Paul, MN
It's actually nice to see them admitting the mistake.
In the long history of bad NBA calls I'm not sure I ever remember a ref being willing to do that, especially right after the game like that. In fact the refs refusal to take ownership of their mistakes is part of what makes the shit show that is NBA officiating particularly maddening.
It should be pointed out that Malloy, who admitted the mistake, was not the guy who made the call
 

PedroKsBambino

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 17, 2003
30,903
Yeah. That's a fairly bad call in a spot they often let stuff go. I'd be upset if they called it on the Celtics, but more because I've seen them let more-than-incidental contact go in that situation so many times.

I actually don't buy the crap about the contact being after the ball was released. Disrupting the release in a way that inevitably will lead to contact should be a foul, and is often called a foul.
It's not a good call, but it looked worse live and there is some contact there so it wouldn't make a top- 10 list of bad calls for me personally - there's indefensible calls that happen somewhat regularly in NBA, this one isn't good (and is pretty bad in context of final shot) but is also defensible.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
30,170
It's not a good call, but it looked worse live and there is some contact there so it wouldn't make a top- 10 list of bad calls for me personally - there's indefensible calls that happen somewhat regularly in NBA, this one isn't good (and is pretty bad in context of final shot) but is also defensible.
Agree with you plus it looks to me that Brunson was between the ref and the shooter so really the ref didn't have a great view of how much (or little) contact there was.

Bigger question to me is why Brunson is challenging the shot in the first place. Clock winding down, shooter is picking up a loose ball and heaving it. To me, situational awareness says that you stick your hands up in the air because a hard contest is more likely to do harm (foul) than materially alter the shot. I mean it's not like Steph Curry or Payton Pritchard were shooting the ball.
 

snowmanny

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 8, 2005
15,563
It's not a good call, but it looked worse live and there is some contact there so it wouldn't make a top- 10 list of bad calls for me personally - there's indefensible calls that happen somewhat regularly in NBA, this one isn't good (and is pretty bad in context of final shot) but is also defensible.
Agree.
 

Jimbodandy

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 31, 2006
11,192
around the way
Agree with you plus it looks to me that Brunson was between the ref and the shooter so really the ref didn't have a great view of how much (or little) contact there was.

Bigger question to me is why Brunson is challenging the shot in the first place. Clock winding down, shooter is picking up a loose ball and heaving it. To me, situational awareness says that you stick your hands up in the air because a hard contest is more likely to do harm (foul) than materially alter the shot. I mean it's not like Steph Curry or Payton Pritchard were shooting the ball.
Yeah some of that is on Brunson too. Don't put yourself in that situation.