Dwight Howard Ejection vs. Raptors Proves NBA Refs Have Technical Foul Issue

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2013

January 4, 2013;  Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) grabs his shoulder during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. Clippers won 107-102. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

The NBA has a problem. A big problem. One that simply shouldn't exist.

With 1:18 remaining in the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Toronto Raptors, Dwight Howard was ejected after receiving his second technical foul.

Dwight Howard has been ejected from the game with very minimal contact with Alan Anderson (double tech).

— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 20, 2013

Howard and Raptors forward Alan Anderson were called for a double technical after getting tied up jostling for position during a Metta World Peace free-throw attempt.

To say the contact was minimal would be an understatement. Also an understatement was Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register's assertion that this call was "strange":

By all accounts, it was strange call by ref Eli Roe on Dwight, slightly tangled up with Raptors swingman Alan Anderson, that prompted the ejection. Ref Sean Corbin brought Roe over to huddle about it before the call wound up standing. 

The double technical fouls prompted Howard's ejection because he got a tech with 4:43 left in the first quarter for arguing non-calls with ref Kenny Mauer. Howard was upset he didn't get the whistle on repeated previous plays.

This call wasn't "strange"; it was inane.

Howard was literally fighting for position against two other players, and the contact that ensued looked almost natural. If that's what the NBA is going to consider a technical, then ejections are going to be happening more than once per game.

I mean, this was ridiculous. There wasn't any excessive jawing involved; no one one was using brute force. They just got tangled. That's all.

Without a doubt, this was one of the worst calls I have ever seen. The Association is no stranger to overdramatic officiating, but this was absolutely absurd.

Basically, the officials penalized Howard (and Anderson) for attempting to rebound. I honestly didn't know rebounding was illegal. I actually thought that it was part of the game.

Better yet, the call stood after referees Eli Roe and Sean Corbin conferred about it. Thus, I ask: Are you freaking kidding me?

There are three sets of eyes on the court that are tasked with making the right call. Mistakes are understandable and are bound to happen, but this was inexplicable. Howard didn't even protest the call originally. Tell me, where were the grounds for a technical, especially one that the official knew would end Howard's day?

I'm not going to suggest there was any favoritism involved here, because Anderson got T'd up as well. But I am starting to think the officials are smoking something whenever they make the trip to Canada.

Remember, Amir Johnson got away with a blatant double-dribble against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Air Canada Centre. Refs also potentially cost the Raptors a game against the Chicago Bulls by blowing a call in the waning moments.

Different circumstances and type of calls? Definitely, but poor officiating still—the type that should be considered inexcusable yet has become all too frequent in today's NBA.

And something needs to be done. This wasn't a pine-rider who was sent to the locker room early; it was Dwight freaking Howard. He's the heart and soul of the Lakers defense.

I'm all for holding players—superstars or not—accountable, but Howard wasn't responsible for what transpired here. This was the result of boneheaded officiating and subpar decision-making. Why should Dwight have to pay the price of one zebra's transgressions?

He shouldn't. I wouldn't wish that on the dirtiest of players (sup, Kevin Garnett?) or most potent of whiners (entire Miami Heat team), let alone Howard.

So yeah, I'm with Shawn Marion and Mark Cuban: Something about the way contests are officiated needs to change.

Why exactly?

Because for a place where amazing is supposed to happen, the NBA truly has become a hotbed for self-imposed mindlessness.