Clueless In New York: David Stern Please Shut Your Mouth

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IApril 27, 2010

David Stern needs to take his own advice and just shut his mouth. Recently there was an article written in regards to players and coaches calling out the NBA referees. The most recent example of this was Stan Van Gundy and Matt Barnes being fined $35,000 for criticizing the NBA officials.

Van Gundy said “see the other great players in this league on the bench all the time with foul trouble, especially on marginal calls.” While Barnes said “to stop calling such tic-tack fouls on him." Barnes was referencing the fouls that were called on Dwight Howard. 

Instead of doing his job Stern took the easy way out by siding with the referees. According to Stern his rationale "So, our coaches should be quiet because this is a good business that makes them good livings and supports a lot of families. If they don’t like it, they should go get a job someplace else. I don’t mean to be too subtle.”

Stern with this comment is trying to make the coaches look bad, but there's one problem with his comment and that is no one buys it. The reason just take a look at the countless examples of players and coaches calling out the referees for not doing their job. 

Last year Doc Rivers was ejected by Bill Kennedy. Rivers stated, "Kennedy stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, ‘What?’ That’s when I got thrown out of the game.”

Kennedy was fined or his actions, but the union for the referees was not happy about the fine. The union's president was quoted as saying “as far as we’re concerned, Bill Kennedy followed every rule according to the referees' manual as it relates to handling situations like this."

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Even though Kennedy who was clearly the one that caused the incident was fined for his actions and it should have been left at that. Rivers was also fined for calling out the actions of Kennedy.

Does that make any sense? The referee was punished for his actions, but the victim of Kennedy's antics was also punished. If Rivers had kept his mouth shut no actions would have been taken against Kennedy. 

That is the real reason why coaches are speaking out against the referees; because if they don't nothing will get done and the worst referees will continue to get away with how they call games. Players and coaches risk fines trying to make the game better. Stern would rather sweep it under the rug and not do anything about it.  

In no other sport does a referee have more power than in basketball and it's a shame that the NBA is nearly unwatchable now. Games are no longer decided by players, but by referees either making a call on something that didn't happen or by not making the correct call. 

A perfect example of that is the double overtime game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant was fouled on a three point attempt, but no foul was called and the Jazz held on for the victory. 

That call changed the scope of the playoff picture. Instead of a 50-32 record that the Thunder had they would have had a 51-31 record which meant instead of being the eighth seed the Thunder would have been the sixth seed. 

Meaning that the matchups would have been different. The Trail Blazers would be the eighth seed taking on the Los Angeles Lakers, The San Antonio Spurs would still be taking on the Dallas Mavericks, and the Thunder would have been sixth taking on the Phoenix Suns

How about the fourth and fifth place finishes of Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets? The only difference would be that the Nuggets would have been fifth and the Jazz would have been fourth. Meaning that the homecourt advantage would have been to the Jazz instead of the Nuggets. 

There are referees in the league who should have been forced out a while ago. One name that continually comes to mind is Joey Crawford. How he was reinstated after he not only ejected Tim Duncan from a game, but challenged him to a fight is beyond any kind of logic. 

Another example is when the Nuggets were taking on the Golden State Warriors and the Nuggets were at home. In this case tje call made specifically was a foul call on Monta Ellis on J.R. Smith. 

The ruling on the court was that Ellis had made contact with Smith who was attempting a desperation three that had no chance of going in. Replays and pictures confirmed that Ellis forced Smith into a much more difficult shot, Ellis made no contact with Smith. 

Smith went to the line calmly made all the free throws and the Nuggets won the game. It's a wonder how Stern can even open his mouth and advise coaches and players to keep their mouths shut! 

Andris Biedrins of the Warriors has one of the hardest times staying out on the court because of foul trouble. He's been in the league for a while now and you would figure that he'd get some respect from NBA referees. 

But, Biedrins doesn't get any. There's been countless times that Biedrins is in a good defensive position puts his hands straight up in the air as the offensive player makes his move there will be no contact created by Biedrins yet the offensive player will create it and Biedrins will be called for a foul. Even though there was no foul period on the play. 

Rarely does Biedrins get upset about the calls because whats' the use? He's been in the league now six years and he'll probably never get the benefit of the doubt. The question is how come Biedrins is never entitled to his space, but if it was any other post defender there would be no foul call at all? 

One of the biggest concerns the league should have, but will probably never fix, is the assumption that contact is going to be made. It happens a lot and there can be a play where a referee is standing right in front of the action and not make a call because there's no call to be made because there was no contact between the players, but a referee from the other side of the court makes a call that doesn't exist. 

Probably the worst issue with the NBA though is the "superstar call." Pretty much any big name player can get away with anything or they get the "ticky-tack" foul calls that if that same defender turns around and is the offensive player and the same thing happened while the superstar is guarding him there's no call. 

In no other sport are superstars babied as they are in the NBA. In baseball a strike is a strike, an out is an out, etc. The NFL doesn't have very many issues with their officials. Sure some calls are more questionable then others, but the referees do a great job. In hockey it's the same thing; the referees do a great job as well. The only sport continually lagging behind is basketball. 

One of the biggest annoyances with NBA refs as well is if team A starts off the game defending team B a little more physically than what team B is used to. With the physical style of play team B struggles and begins complaining to the referees. 

As the game progresses into the second quarter a technical foul will be called on team B for complaining too much about a lack of a calsl because of team A's ability to play physically. 

Before leaving the court for half time team B's coach will talk to the referees about the way team A plays. So, as the third quarter beings the referees begin to start calling fouls on team A that the referees would not have been calling before. So, team A begins to get upset with the referees about the calls and that means there's really no consistency to any of the calls made by the referees. 

It's a slap in the face to NBA fans hearing Stern state that warning. Why? Because who else will let the NBA know that the referees are not doing their jobs? Fans can't do anything except go onto NBA.com find the officials link and e-mail the league the complaint, but it's all a big sham. The NBA doesn't care about what the fans think about the referees? 

Stern still believes that the NBA referees are the best in the business. The sad part is they are the absolute worst and until something changes NBA fans are going to be stuck with the officiating getting worse and worse because there's not going to be any way stop to it.

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