Ejected on Consecutive Games: Does NBA Hate Ron Artest?

David WangAnalyst IMay 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06:  Ron Artest #96 of the Houston Rockets points to his neck as he talks with referee Bill Spooner before he was ejected in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

As the NBA Playoffs become more and more physical, technical and flagrant fouls are seemingly given out in every single game.  The most notable series of all, perhaps, is the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers series.

In Game 1, the Rockets surprisingly took away Lakers' home court advantage.  In the next game, not only did the Lakers respond through their on-court performance, but also through their attitude.  

Several players were assessed technical fouls towards the end of the third quarter, adding to that is the infamous flagrant two foul on Derek Fisher, who intentionally elbowed Rockets forward Luis Scola in the chest. He was automatically ejected and was also suspended one game by the NBA. I am sure we have all seen that play and agreed with the flagrant two foul.

Later on in the fourth quarter, Ron Artest was assessed with a technical foul for standing up for himself against an elbow in the neck from Kobe Bryant while fighting for a rebound.  Granted the fact that Ron Artest went to Bryant after the call, and had some words with him, he did not show any non-sportsmanship-like qualities.  Nevertheless, he was ejected from the building.  

This, to me, was completely irrational, for Ron Artest did absolutely nothing wrong.  He was the victim of a hard play, and he was doing nothing but standing up for himself.  I firmly believe that anyone should have the right to do so.  However, referees thought otherwise.  Kobe Bryant was given a flagrant one foul afterwards, which was pretty meaningless.

In Game 3, everything seems much more calmer than the previous game, until the last minute.  Pau Gasol runs the floor for a lay-up/dunk, while the Rockets tried to intentionally foul him to stop the clock.  As Gasol goes up, Ron Artest comes in from the side for the block, but fouls Gasol.  

It was clearly a hard foul, but nothing more than that. From the replays, it was evident that Ron Artest was going after the basketball, not any other body parts of Gasol. Referees assessed Ron Artest with a flagrant two foul—which meant that they could review the play to make sure they made the right call. Surprisingly, the referees believed that they made the right call, and Ron Artest was ejected with a flagrant two foul.

It is not the fact that Ron Artest was ejected that bothers me; it is the fact that he was assessed the same foul as Derek Fisher. As previously mentioned, Derek Fish evidently elbowed Luis Scola intentionally, and it was a non-sportsmanship-like play. However, Ron Artest was clearly attacking for the ball, not to injure Pau Gasol, and he was given flagrant two as well?

Perhaps the NBA officiating crew has to be much more consistent on the calls, especially those that involve ejections, but through the officiating seen in Games 2 and 3, NBA seems to hold some sort of grudge against Ron Artest. In Game 2, he was ejected for standing up for himself; in game 3, he was ejected for a good hard foul consistently seen in NBA playoffs.  

To add to all these unfair calls, Ron Artest never once raised his voice or showed an attitude, let alone aggression. I do understand the fact that NBA is trying to prevent the infamous brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills from happening again, but it also needs to understand that Ron Artest is, at the very least, trying to be a better person.

I am personally not a Rockets or a Lakers fan, but a mere basketball fan watching some good basketball games.  Frankly I do not care which team wins the series, but I always like a fair game.  But a fair game starts with a fair officiating crew, and from these two games, I have seen unfairness against Ron Artest specifically.

This leads me to think that NBA really needs to go back to the drawing board and somehow refine its officiating rules and their consistency.