The NBA has a commercial that states "Where Amazing Happens" well that commercial and the premise of it is great, but it is further from the truth than one realizes.
Yes there are amazing plays that happen in nearly every game, no argument there, but the one consistent part of the NBA that has progressively gotten worse is the officiating.
Part of the reason for this can go squarely on David Stern's shoulders. The game has gone from a more physical style of play of the '80s and early '90s to the point where a defender doesn't even have to touch a player to get a foul call.
One of the most recent examples came in game two of the NBA Finals, on Mickael Pietrus's fifth of the game. Kobe was attacking Pietrus to get to a spot and pull up, Pietrus played perfect defense and never even touched Bryant.
Dwight Howard came over and blocked the shot of Kobe's to help Pietrus out on defense against Kobe. Due to the fact that Howard was able to block the shot and because of the momentum of the blocked shot, Kobe fell to the floor.
Instead of the Magic going out on a fast break or at least the chance to bring their lead up at that time from a one point, the whistle blew and Kobe got sent to the free throw line.
Where was the contact on the play? There wasn't any.
One of the reasons why Kobe is one of the most annoying players in the league is because of this. Kobe for some reason gets bogus calls game after game and the NBA has done nothing to stop it.
The question is why?
Well it is obvious. Stern needed a great player to take over for the retired Michael Jordan, so why not Bryant? He was young and even during the beginning of his career fans compared Bryant to Jordan.
Even before the play in Game Two, Kobe has been known to get favorable calls no matter if it is at home or away. Who can forget the 2006-07 when Kobe scored his 65 points, but clearly pushed off Brandon Roy?
It was played in Los Angeles, but was there a call? Nope. Should there have been? 99.99 percent of the time that is called an offensive foul, when a player uses their off hand to push a defender out of the way.
Yet, when it is Kobe Bryant there's no foul call.
This goes to the point, Kobe gets calls no other player gets.
When a team plays him physical he starts whining at the officials, hence one of the reasons why he gets technicals.
Yet, after he complains then the calls usually start to turn, going in the Lakers' and Kobe's direction. Has the defense changed on him? Nope, the calls just started going in Kobe's way because of his complaining.
No other player in the NBA gets more favorable calls then Bryant does. One of the reasons is his incessant complaining that he's being fouled even when a defensive player does everything right, they move their feet, they stay in front of Kobe, they have their hands up, etc...
Of course there are other players beside Bryant that get favorable calls; such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Dirk Nowitzki just to name a few. But even with all those names, the most recognizable and most common occurrence is Bryant.
Stern has a second problem with officials and that has come under fire over the past couple of seasons, and that is with flopping. A player doesn't even have to be set anymore, all they have to do is fall down and act like they just got elbowed by either Dikembe Mutumbo or Karl Malone and there's an offensive foul called.
Heck it doesn't even have to be on a player driving to the hoop, now hard fouls are being sold. Does Steve Nash acting like he just got hip checked by Robert Horry ring a bell?
What about Anderson Varejao? He has become the worst flopper in the league and what's even more disappointing is the fact that Stern and the league has done absolutely nothing about it.
Maybe one of the most disappointing theories in the NBA is the fact that young players have to earn respect from the referees. This is received by not complaining when there's a bad call that goes against them.
It is fair to say that in Game Two there was a terrible no-call on Lamar Odom, which did effect the outcome of the game. With the shotclock winding down and the game still in regulation with just under 10 seconds left to play, Courtney Lee goes for a layup, but misses.
Yet, just after he released the shot Odom attempts to block the shot, but isn't able to block it in time and instead hits Lee across his arms sending him to the floor. Was there a foul call? No.
Yes, fans want too see no-calls in certain situations, especially towards the end of the game, but this was clearly a foul. There's no denying it and this was an obvious foul call, but why would the refs swallow the whistle at this time? Only because Lee is a rookie if it were any other player on the Magic or Lakers there would have been a foul call and two free throws.
Lastly though, the league's ability to handle flagrant foul situations is absolutely ridiculous. Also, the number of flagrant foul calls in the playoffs that have been changed or rescinded is crazy.
The flagrant fouls in the league have become a joke.
Rajon Rondo can literally try to rip the face off of someone and only be called for a foul, but Rafer Alston can playfully smack Eddie House on the head and he gets suspended for a game.
There's absolutely no balance between the calls, and looking at the replay doesn't remotely help because even with the replay the officials are still missing it.
In today's NBA, if a player is attacking the rim and the foul is hard it usually is automatically called a flagrant, even when making a play on the ball. Look at Trevor Ariza's hard foul on Rudy Fernandez.
Blazer fans were screaming bloody murder and wanting Ariza suspended for the play, but back in the late '80s and early '90s that play would be a common occurrence. It was a foul not a flagrant.
How many times has their been a player given a dunk because no player wanted to foul?
Yet, back watching the era of the "Bad Boys" and the extremely physical New York Knicks, if a player was attacking the rim the player would more than likely have to earn it from the charity stripe because they weren't going to allow a dunk or a free layup.
The NBA was much tougher back then and the defense was way better, but Stern changed the rules so teams could score more points. His reasoning is more fans want too see high flying and high scoring games, than watch a defensive struggle.
Which, may be the case, but now the game has become incredibly boring and way too predictable. A player gets burned on defense and it results in an easy layup.
Back in the late '80s or early '90s that player wouldn't have such an easy time getting to the rim.