The Other Side of the Officiating Argument
Posted by Zach Lowe on May 27, 2010
If the officials had one articulate defender last night, it was Matt Moore, the lead author of Hardwood Paroxysm (one of the best and longest-standing NBA blogs out there) and a major contributor to NBC’s new Pro Basketball Talk blog.
Matt’s no fan of the Celtics, though he does root for them from time to time. The arguments he made on Twitter last night in partial defense of the officiating are worth discussing, because they get at issues of authority, reputation and player conduct. Here is Moore’s response to Joey Crawford’s tech on Rajon Rondo:
The reasoning is simple and clear: If Joey Crawford warns you that you’re about to receive a technical if you keep yapping, you must stop yapping—even if you yap in a calmer tone than Crawford does.
You can see the logic behind it. But do you agree?
The thornier issue, of course, is Perk’s ejection. Here is Moore’s response to that call, and I suspect this response speaks for a solid minority of fans:
There is no denying Perk is among the league’s biggest complainers. Does that give the referees the right to treat him differently than they treat other players?
Let’s be clear: I don’t think Moore actually believes the referees have a right to come down more harshly—and more quickly—on Perk because of his complaining. Here’s what I suspect Moore means: The refs may have developed—consciously or unconsciously—a shorter fuse for Perkins because Perk complains so often. It might not be fair, just as it might not be fair that police officers pay closer attention to guys with criminal records when they see those guys on the streets—even if said criminals have moved on to live perfectly clean lives.
Let me be clear: I disagree strongly with the ejection of Kendrick Perkins. I think it was a terrible sequence of officiating, starting with the personal foul on Perk that drew out his temper. I disagree with the idea that players with “reputations” should be treated differently than others.
But such biases exist, they are human, and there will be fans out there who say the Celtics in general and Perk (and Sheed) in particular have earned whatever bias might show itself in the heat of the moment.
Here’s Moore on Pro Basketball Talk:
The Celtics lead the league in playoff technicals in the playoffs with 18 techs. 18. That’s a pretty clear pattern that the officials have to be aware of.
Moore added this in an email to me tonight:
Part of your bullying style is that you’re going to get nights like this.
Back to his post on NBC’s blog:
Finally, there’s being in the heat of the moment, as the NBA guidelines stipulate is allowed for air punches (HT: Trey Kerby), and there’s pushing your luck. These guys are grown men, who are responsible for their emotions. Perkins needs to keep his head and keep playing. His team needs him,especially with the injuries the Celtics sustained tonight. It may have been a bad call, it may have been a bad tech, but it was still within his control to prevent.
That last part represents the one knock on Perkins that resonates with me right now, as I write this at 11:35 p.m. after taking a cold shower to calm down a bit. In general, I am unsympathetic toward guys who push their luck knowing they have one technical foul. Now, you could argue that classifying what Perk did as “pushing his luck” is unfair in itself, since he walked away from the scene and displayed a general sense of frustration directed at no particular individual.
And that’s really what it comes down to. Did Perk push his luck? In real time, I thought that he did, and I was upset with him.
Upon watching the replays?
I don’t buy it. It was a bad call. Did you see Marcin Gortat throw a similar little tantrum either late in the 3rd or early in the 4th after the Magic lost the ball out of bounds? Gortat, who disagreed with the call, did a little exaggerated high-step back up the court—away from the refs, just like Perk—and waved his arms in frustration.
Is that a technical? Unless Perk said something nasty about one of Eddie Rush’s female relatives, I’m not sure I see much of a difference between what Perk did to get earn his second tech and what Gortat did later in the game—except that Perk is Perk and Gortat is Gortat.
But here we are. The league is going to rescind one of Perk’s techs so he can play in Game 6. If they don’t, I’ll be blown away. He’s going to play in Game 6.
Game six. Game 6. Holy crap.