Basketball helped make Christmas great for millions of people around the world. Viewers saw Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash’s Los Angeles Lakers take down Carmelo Anthony’s New York Knicks, LeBron James defeat Kevin Durant in a NBA Finals rematch of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden go wild all over the Chicago Bulls, and the Boston Celtics crush the Brooklyn Nets.
In short, the action was awesome.
However, the officiating was suspect in both the Heat/Thunder game and the Knicks/Lakers contest, presumably the most watched games of the day.
Anthony continues to not receive the respect from officials that James and Durant get, but today is was really obvious. Tyson Chandler of the Knicks was the only player from either team to foul out in the game. The Knicks starters accumulated 15 total fouls, and the Lakers had 8. It just seemed that every little thing went LA’s way.
In the Finals rematch between the Heat and the Thunder, the Thunder went to the line for 38 shots, 19 more than Miami’s 19 shots. However, in the closing moments of the fourth quarter with OKC down by 3, Durant missed an open look from the top of the key. The ball went Russell Westbrook who had what seemed like an equally good shot. Dwyane Wade closed out on him, making obvious contact with the Thunder guard as he shot, but no whistle was blown.
Westbrook was given a technical foul after he smacked the scorer’s table in frustration. “It’s a part of the game,” he said on the no call.
As a whole, NBA referees need to step up their game. Players are giving it their all night in and night out, and deserve the same effort from the referees. Too many technical fouls are being given, and superstars are given either excessive favoritism (James) or blatant disrespect (Anthony). A middle ground needs to be found, and I see no reason why the officiating can’t improve as the season goes on.
Keep in mind, these refs are human. However, just like the players, the officials are professionals and need to be held to a high standard.