Sunday, April 22, 2007

Welcome to NBA Playoff Sunday

-On the topic of the officiating debate: People are worried that we are witnessing a rift between league office, refs, and players. To this I ask, where have you been the last decade? The NBA has long been conflicted between the desire to placate an audience that wants to see players play, and the knowledge that if it doesn't stand by its refs, the league would suffer from instant credibility loss. David Stern and his refs have always had a strange dynamic for a number of reasons. First of all, as much as I hate the way the NBA fines anyone who says anything about its beloved officiating, I do understand the compulsion behind it. Could you imagine of Stern and his gang DIDN'T stand by his refs? That would give players, fans, and coaches everywhere license to question every call. This would result in a huge credibility gap because of all the criticism that would be going around the league. To fix this, Stern has done much more than just fine everyone with a negative talking point, he has, I believe, sent the message to major sports outlets to depict the refs in a new light. Think back on all the nationally televised games this past season. It seems to me that more time has been spent talking about the refs, reminding viewers that they have histories, families, and a contribution to the game. Even before the Crawford incident, I have distinct memories of Mike Breen (et al) not just running down the list of refs but telling us a bit about each one. I don't think this has happened in any other year. Is it too much of a stretch to argue that NBA league officials have sent the message to media outlets to let fans know how important refs are? I think Stern is really scared of what would happen with hoards of unabashed critics, and thus he is using all of his tools to ensure that that doesn't happen. The second strange thing about the NBA and its refs is the way that Stern uses the in-game tendencies of the refs to try and change the image of the game. Before the season began, Stern gave his refs license to T up anything that walks. What Stern is doing is try to cut down on notion that his players are whiney primadonnas, and to do this, he is attempting to manipulate the way the games are called.

-How awesome would it be to see the Wiz pull off a first round upset? I’ve never seen so many people (with good reason) counting a team out in the first round. This would be huge… Huge I say!

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