Coaching legend Phil Jackson is angry with venerable referee Dick Bavetta, just as he has been for most of the last decade...and the decade before that...and the decade before that.
Jackson may be retired from coaching, but that doesn't mean he has stopped watching NBA games, or criticizing NBA officials. He took to Twitter to voice his disapproval with a foul called on guard Trevor Ariza while guarding James Harden at the end of Wednesday's game between the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets:
Dick Bavetta has been around long enuf to know that clasp Harden put on Trevor-offensive foul…okay i’ll SMH— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 13, 2014
It should be noted that Ariza played for Jackson's Los Angeles Lakers from 2007 to 2009, winning a championship under the esteemed coach in 2008-09.
Bavetta has been an NBA official since 1975, when Jackson was still a player with the New York Knicks. The two have had notable clashes in the past. Bavetta has long been one of the league's most trusted refs and has been called upon to work several playoff series over the years. That meant he often found himself squarely in the cross-hairs of Jackson, who manned the bench for 333 playoff games in his career and was never shy about criticizing the refs.
Yahoo! Sports' Kelly Dwyer recalled a particularly humorous back-and-forth during a 1991 playoff series between Jackson's Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers:
Phil Jackson: “Hey Dick, I didn’t know you were from Philadelphia?”
Dick Bavetta: “You know I was born in Brooklyn, Phil.”
Phil Jackson: “So why do you keep giving all the calls to the 76ers?”
So was Ariza guilty of a foul? Here is clip of the play:
NBC Sports' Dan Feldman believes Ariza fouled Harden, but that Jackson might be correct in his assessment as well:
The end result, a foul on Ariza, was correct. But it’s quite possible Jackson has a point and Bavetta missed two calls on the play – not calling the foul Ariza committed and then falling for Harden’s hook.
In the end, the All-Star (Harden) received the benefit of the doubt from the ref. It seems a tad ironic that Jackson, whose teams also benefited from their fair share of "star calls" over the years, would be the one to complain.