Now that the Eastern Conference Finals are down to a best of three, it would be nice if commissioner David Stern, deputy-commissioner Adam Silver or league official Stu Jackson would beg the referees for leniency. A simple please let the players play would be nice, because the referees are making this series unbearable.
But before I get going, I’ll get this out of the way early. In no way am I going to blame the officials for a win or a loss on either side. Yet, they’ve flat out stunk across the board — like there was bad residue left over from the Chicago Bulls series.
Forget the suspect traveling call against Dwyane Wade or the late game LeBron James foul; those were just a slight sample of the referees’ schizophrenia. Refusing to blow the whistle when Shane Battier gets ran over or when Paul George gets slapped in the face is another. The ref were even overruling calls like they were trying to upstage each other. And it’s all taking the rhythm out of the game.
“Every time we got going, there was a whistle for a foul or a kicked ball or something like that,” said Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (via ESPN.com). “It’s just something that we have to keep working through.”
Not just for the players though. The fans have to work through it too while the refs slow the game down and draw it out. They’re taking the fun out of everything. Even I had to change the TV a few times.
In big games, referees are supposed to be seen and not heard but we’re four games deep and they continue to headline the story. This is where the conspiracy theories come in.
People like Charles Barkley would say that some of the calls against the Indiana Pacers were to ensure the Heat a trip to the 2013 NBA Finals — for ratings sake. Others will claim that much of the Heat roster was in foul trouble, for Game 4, because the league needed a game for the weekend with the San Antonio Spurs already home in the West.
If you ask me, they don’t seem to be pulling for one team or the other. They actually come off as being extra sensitive when the attention shifts from them. If players sneeze too hard in the first three quarters, they get called for enough fouls to have them scared to breathe in the fourth. Just ask Chris Bosh — he’s barely seen the court in this series.
Would it be too much to ask the NBA to let the Pacers and Heat play free for a whole game? Would be nice, wouldn’t it?
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Richard Nurse is a Miami Heat columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr.