'Silent Joe' Johnson Gets an Improbable Technical, Then Apology

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2014

Brooklyn Nets' Joe Johnson (7) and New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) fight for control of the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in New York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II

Brooklyn Nets wing Joe Johnson isn’t a talkative guy, so his technical foul against the New York Knicks on April 2 was particularly rare.

Even rarer: the apology officials subsequently issued for the blown call that set Johnson off in the first place.

Per Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game:

Jason Kidd and Joe Johnson both got called for technical fouls. Yes, Jason Kidd, who had yet to draw a technical foul this season, and Joe Johnson, who hasn't spoken above a mumbling whisper all season, both drew enough of officiating ire to get them T'd up.

Johnson wasn’t moved by the officials’ admission of fault, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

The technical occurred just after the first half concluded when both Johnson and Kidd offered a few choice words toward the officials on their way to the locker room. Johnson was upset over a foul he thought should have been called on the Nets’ last offensive possession of the second quarter.

Watching the clip, it’s hard to argue with his position.

And as it turns out, the referees felt the same way—after they had a chance to review the play at halftime.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the technical—his second on the season—couldn’t be rescinded. He’ll have to be satisfied with the moral victory instead.

In isolation, the admission of fault from the referees isn’t all that significant. Watch any game and you’ll see officials owning up to the odd missed call when they chat with coaches on either bench.

But viewed more broadly, this incident is tied to a larger, league-wide movement toward transparency. B/R’s Howard Beck reported on a series of internal memos covering missed calls and action items the league made public on March 31.

Moving forward, the NBA will be well served by pulling back the curtain as often as possible. And if that means referees are increasingly willing to admit mistakes, it will only build a healthier relationship between players, fans and officials.

That’s good for all involved.