NBA players and NBA referees are at loggerheads.
(Boy, I love the word “loggerheads.” This is why it’s great to be a sports columnist — in what other walk of life can you use the word “loggerheads” from time to time and make good money?)
Players are upset at the officiating.
Referees are upset that players keep grousing about the officiating.
There is a simple solution here: Either find better officiating or stop whining about it.
The Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green actually proposed the former, recently suggesting the NBA replace all referees. “They can get a whole new crop,” he said. “Too many personal things going on. Too much me against you.”
(As an alternative, I might suggest that the Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings consider replacing all of their players.)
How bad is it right now?
Last month, a referee, Courtland Kirkland, and a player, the Warriors’ Shaun Livingston, went forehead-to-forehead; essentially, they head-butt each other. Wow.
Old-timers out there, can you imagine Mendy Rudolph head-butting, say, George Mikan or Nate Thurmond? That’s some pretty aggressive officiating — it’s something you don’t expect, like a surgeon trash-talking a patient on the operating table just before a triple bypass.
Of late, players are particularly agitated that when they approach an official to say something, refs are holding up a hand — like a stop sign. Heck, Toni does this to me four or five times a day before lunch.
Just grow up, you multimillionaire crybabies. Or do what I now do with Toni — if I have a beef, I just write a note and leave it on her nightstand.
(Speaking of which, it seems somewhat obvious that the players and referees need couples therapy. Ah, but trust me, couples therapy is no cure-all; from my multiple experiences over two disparate centuries, the biggest benefit of couples therapy was when they validated parking.)
Even stars aren’t getting star treatment anymore. Kevin Durant has been ejected three times this season. LeBron James was ejected from a game in November for the first time in his 15-year career; some people treated this as the equivalent of throwing the president out of the country.
(By the way, let me ask Durant and the Warriors this: How can you be the best team and lead the league in technical fouls? My goodness, life is good. WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? Bad calls didn’t prevent Napoleon from annexing much of Western Europe; bad calls aren’t going to prevent you fellas from winning another NBA title.)
All the player-referee contretemps are being exacerbated by a couple of factors — replay and something called the “last-two-minute report.”
Note: My New Year’s resolution was not to publicly bemoan the descent into the abyss that replay has caused more than 37 times. This is my second offense this year.
With Mark Cuban constantly harping on bad officiating, with replay stoppages cluttering the end of games, all the focus turns to the referees. It hurts the health of the game to continually shine a light on officiating.
The worst manifestation of this is the NBA’s last-two-minute report, which assesses officials’ calls in games within five points at the two-minute mark until the final buzzer. This transparency causes more harm than good — the best thing to do is make a call and move on, not look back.
(Can you imagine other walks of life using a last-two-minute report — Congress, dentists, honeymoons, paleontologists, tax accountants, morticians?)
The way out of all this is for players to dial back their on-court bellyaching. Complaining about the officiating in the middle of a game is like complaining about the rain while standing in the rain — there’s nothing you can do about it, other than buy a $5 street umbrella that will break within five minutes.
So stop bitching and moaning. Be happy in your work.
Besides, life is too short to argue a block/charge call.
Ask The Slouch
Q. You wrote an entire piece on LeBron James without telling us why he is so good. What type of commentary/analysis is that? (William Lee; Chicago)
A. You want to know why he is so good? Because he’s unguardable. What do I mean by unguardable? He cannot be guarded. Is that clear enough for you? Now get out of my column.
Q. Al Michaels mentioned last week that replay stoppages were taking too long. Does The Slouch have a solution? (Jonathan Levine; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
A. Other than putting the genie back in the bottle? But he’s absolutely right — heck, I remember the interminable delay when my marriage proposal to Toni was under review.
Q. Have Bill Belichick and Steve Bannon ever been seen in the same room at the same time? (John Keeling; Boerne, Tex.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Should the Raiders interview Marvin Lewis and claim compliance with the Rooney Rule because he should have been fired? (Seth Hieken; Duxbury, Mass.)
A. Pay this wise soul, too.
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