The 10 Worst Referee Calls in NBA Postseason History

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterMay 24, 2012

The 10 Worst Referee Calls in NBA Postseason History

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    Breaking news, referees in professional sports don't always make the correct calls.

    This may come as a shocker to some, but it's true. To be fair, being a referee is tough work, especially in the NBA. With so many moving bodies and all those rules to keep fresh in your mind, it's human nature to make a mistake every now and then. 

    That being said, there have been some absolutely inexcusable calls over the years, especially when the intensity dials up during playoff time. 

    Here are 10 of the worst referee calls in NBA postseason history.

10. And the Foul Is On...Joey Crawford?

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    Year/Round: 2005 Eastern Conference finals

    Teams: Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat

    Call in Question:

    With the Heat trying to mount a late-game comeback against the Pistons, they get a little help from an unlikely source.

    Joey Crawford apparently decides he wants to get in on the action, body checking Damon Jones out of bounds, and then, calling the foul on Chauncey Billups.

    Smooth move, Joe.

9. Can't Metta World Peace Catch a Break?

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    Year/Round: 2012 Western Conference semifinals Game 5

    Teams: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Call in Question:

    So Metta World Peace doesn't have the best reputation in the league, but in this case, he actually deserves a break.

    Metta actually does an outstanding job of stopping a fast-break layup by clearly stuffing the ball, but due to his size and strength advantage over Thabo Sefolosha, he sends the Thunder guard crashing into the ground.

    Did it deserve a foul? Probably, but calling this a flagrant one when he was making a play on the ball is a joke.

    World Peace had some not-so-peaceful language after the call that led to an additional technical foul, and Kobe joined the party with a technical of his own.

    The Thunder of course went on to win the game, sending the Lakers out of the playoffs in the second round for the second straight year.

8. Keyon Dooling Gets His Own Teammate

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    Year/Round: 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals

    Teams: Detroit Pistons vs. Orlando Magic

    Call in Question:

    Give Keyon Dooling credit, he was aggressive, drove the lane and picked up a hard foul.

    The fact that it was against his own teammate? It didn't matter on this night.

    It's tough to tell, but the Pistons bench seemed slightly upset at the fact their guy was called for a foul after Dooling ran into teammate Marcin Gortat.

    What concerns me is that a referee was a mere 10 feet away from the play when he made the call.

    What exactly was he looking at?

7. Celtics Get a Helping Hand

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    Year/Round: 2008 NBA Finals Game 2

    Teams: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Call in Question:

    For an NBA Finals game, there sure were a lot of touchy fouls.

    Whether it be Ronny Turiaf fouling Leon Powe by blocking his shot or Kevin Garnett hacking Pau Gasol on the wrist for the no call, it seemed a lot of calls were going in Boston's favor.

    The Celtics would ultimately go on to win the series due to their overall superior play, but a little help from the referees in Game 2 certainly didn't hurt.

6. Heat Beat Pistons, Just Not in Box Score

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    Year/Round: 2006 Eastern Conference finals

    Teams: Miami Heat vs. Detroit Pistons

    Call in Question:

    So many things are going wrong in this game.

    Whether it was Shaq throwing Pistons to the ground for no call, Dwyane Wade grabbing Chauncey Billups's jersey or Dick Bavetta missing Tayshaun Prince calling a timeout from two feet away, it was clear the refs were taking a night off.

    Despite the efforts from Miami and the officials, Detroit ended up winning the game but would later go on to lose the series.

    Was it mentioned that Joey Crawford was part of the crew that night?

5. Nash Fouled By...Who?

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    Year/Round: 2010 Western Conference First Round

    Teams: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns

    Call in Question:

    The NBA's finest, Joey Crawford, apparently saw something nobody else in the building did.

    About halfway through the third quarter in a close game, Crawford called a foul on the Blazers for doing, well, something to Steve Nash.

    Nash begins to head back down the court before being instructed by Crawford to head to the free-throw line because of a foul by...Marcus Camby?

    As you can see, Camby and Nash are a good 15 feet away from each other when the whistle blows, and Nash remains untouched the entire time.

    Oh, Joey...

4. Dirk Gets the Foul...for Letting Wade Elbow Him

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    Year/Round: 2006 NBA Finals Game 7

    Teams: Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Call in Question:

    Game 6 of the 2006 finals had the Mavericks with their backs up against the wall, having dropped three straight games to the Heat after taking the first two in the series.

    To Dallas's credit, they put up a tremendous fight. Dirk Nowitzki had a huge game with 29 points and 15 rebounds but had a costly foul called on him late in the game.

    After hitting a big jumper, Dirk came back the floor only to draw a blocking foul—for taking an elbow from Dwyane Wade?

    As you can clearly see, Wade extended his left arm into the chest of Nowitzki, drawing a highly questionable foul.

    Wade would make the free throws, and Miami would win the game, giving them their first NBA championship.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Doesn't Travel and Gets Fouled, Right?

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    Year/Round: 1988 NBA Finals Game 6

    Teams: Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Call in Question:

    The Pistons came into this game up three games to two in the best-of-seven series. Holding a slim 102-101 lead on the Lakers with 27 seconds left in the game, L.A. naturally chose to go to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the game on the line.

    Defended by Bill Laimbeer, who at the time had five fouls, Abdul-Jabbar launched a hook shot that clanked off the rim but was bailed out by a foul call on Laimbeer.

    The so-called "phantom foul" is a tough call. One could argue Laimbeer was going straight up; others could state that there was enough contact to warrant a call.

    Abdul-Jabbar would go on to hit both free throws to give the Lakers the lead, later the game, and eventually, the finals win over Detroit.

    Whether or not you think it was a foul, take a close look at his steps before the shot goes up.  Travel perhaps?

2. Suns vs. Spurs Game 3

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    Year/Round: 2007 Western Conference semifinals Game 3

    Teams: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Call in Question:

    This entire game was littered with questionable calls.

    The Spurs and Suns were locked in a physical series and were hungry for a shot at the NBA Finals.

    In this particular game, Amar'e Stoudemire played only 21 minutes due to foul trouble, Steve Nash got hacked on multiple occasions and there were plenty of technical fouls to go around with the abysmal officiating.

    After the game, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons wrote, "Not since the cocaine era from 1978-1986 has the league faced a bigger ongoing issue than crappy officiating."

    On a not-so side note, Tim Donaghy was calling the game that night.

1. Kings vs. Lakers Game 6

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    Year/Round: 2002 Western Conference finals Game 6

    Teams: Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Call in Question:

    This entire game remains a black eye for the NBA.

    Centered at the heart of disgraced ex-referee Tim Donaghy's allegations that the NBA was advising referee's to fix certain games, it's obvious who the referees wanted to win that night.

    The Kings entered the game up three games to two in the best-of-seven series, in what was a matchup of two powerhouse teams littered with star power.

    According to Donaghy, the NBA liked the series so much that they wanted to make sure it lasted an extra game, even at the expense of quality officiating.

    The Lakers, for the game, shot 40 free throws to the Kings 25, including 27 in the fourth quarter alone compared to the Kings nine.

    Mike Bibby got elbowed in the face by Kobe Bryant for no call. Vlade Divac was getting pushed around by Shaq and getting the foul called on him.

    Of course, anything Donaghy says should be taken with a grain of salt, but one has to admit that the infamous Game 6 is one of, if not the worst, officiated games of all time.


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