Refs in Chicago Bulls Game Attack the Integrity of the Game

Beyond the Arc BasketballContributor INovember 11, 2009

I am a basketball fan first and foremost, and I am greatly disturbed by the lack in judgment that occurred last night with the collection of stooges that consisted of Mark Wunderlich, Matt Boland, and Eric Dalen.

It is also shameful that NBA senior vice president of referee operations, Ron Johnson, defended their decision after they did an absolutely horrible job overall calling last night’s Denver versus Chicago game.

For those unaware of the situation, Brad Miller’s late game heroics in which he quickly caught, shot and made a long two-pointer with 0.3 seconds to go to seal a Bulls victory was overruled after video review by the aforementioned referees. Of course, I was crestfallen at hearing the news and I was quick to my feet in scavenging for a replay. And when I finally saw the multiple various angles, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Why did I do this? Because of the following NBA rule:

“Instant replay reviews will be conducted and processed in two minutes or less by the game officials. The call made during play will only be reversed when the replay provides the officials with a “clear and conclusive” basis to do so.”

Say what you want about whether or not Brad Miller still had his fingertips on the ball when the clock ran down to 0.0 seconds. But regardless if you think the call should have gone one way or the other, no one can definitely say whether or not there was a small separation between Brad Miller’s hands and the ball when the clock expired due to the forward movement of the shot.

Miller did not have a chance to get into his typical shooting form and there has been no view that can definitively demonstrate that there was no separation between his fingertips and the ball when the clock expired. Therefore, since there is no “clear and conclusive” evidence to call the shot good or not good, the ruling on the court which gave the Bulls the victory should have stood.

Besides the fact that there is not a single shot that can definitively show beyond a shadow of a doubt what exactly happened, there are other factors that must be taken into account here. The referees specifically put 0.3 seconds on the clock to allow for a potential catch and shoot type scenario. The Trent Tucker rule was put into place for just this type of situation.

So why rule the shot no good? You have to take into consideration that as much we all want the shot clock to be accurate, human error does play a role. And while the shot clock is supposed to start once a player touches the ball, do we know for sure that the shot clock keeper started the countdown at the exact moment in time that Brad Miller touched the ball?

While it is certainly upsetting to any Bulls fans that this occurred, what irks me to no end was that the NBA clearly is not following their own rule. If the NBA believes they need to save face for the referees, that is one thing. And I can totally understand that thinking because of the fragile ties right now between the league and the referees. But by doing so, they are indirectly attacking the integrity of the game.

Why create a rule if you are not going to enforce it? I sincerely hope that the NBA front office will take to heart their own rules in the future because right now they seriously have a lesson or two to learn from the NFL about instant replay.