Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee made of the most clutch defensive plays of the season in Tuesday's win over the Miami Heat. With his team leading by one point in the closing seconds, and LeBron James charging in for the game-winning dunk, the rookie Plumlee met the two-time reigning MVP at the rim. The refs ruled Plumlee's block clean, the clock ran out, and the Nets walked away with an 88-87 win.
The block was immediately controversial, as the Heat and their fans believed that James was fouled on the play.
On Thursday, the NBA moved to head off any controversy by ruling Plumlee's block to be clean, per USA Today's Adi Joseph:
That was NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn who confirmed it and said it was "very, very close."— Adi Joseph (@AdiJoseph) April 10, 2014
The NBA has confirmed that Mason Plumlee's block against LeBron James was clean, that he got the ball first.— Adi Joseph (@AdiJoseph) April 10, 2014
Here is a video clip of the block. You be the judge.
Plumlee's veteran teammates did not allow the first-year center to let the big play go to his head. According to Newsday's Roderick Boone, Joe Johnson still made the rookie get the towels and water after the game: "I just told him big play, but get the towels. Get your towels, and make sure you get us some Gatorade and water and meet us at the bus."
This isn't the first time Rod Thorne has officially weighed in on controversial calls by the refs. He admitted to officiating mistake in a pair of important recent Western Conference clashes: a problem with a the clock running in the March 31 Denver Nuggets-Memphis Grizzlies game and a missed goaltending call in the April 1 Dallas Mavericks-Golden State Warriors game.
This transparency has been a recent development of the new Adam Silver administration. Unlike his predecessor, David Stern, Silver seems to be interested in making the league's dealing with their referees a more transparent process.
And that is a good thing, per NBC Sports' Dan Feldman:
Fans who spend money, directly through ticket sales and merchandise and indirectly through advertising, on the NBA deserve to know what’s happening in the league.
Kudos to the Silver regime for going this direction. Referee memos can be a bit trite, but there’s no good reason not to disclose them.
As for the Heat and Nets, they currently hold the No. 2 and No. 5 seeds in the Eastern Conference, respectively. If those seeds hold, they could not meet until the conference finals. So both James and Plumlee have their work cut out for them if they want to relive that fateful block.