Tuesday was April Fool’s Day, but the NBA office decided to celebrate it belatedly yesterday by announcing that the referees blew a call in last night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, effectively costing the Dallas Mavericks the game. Actually, it wasn’t the acknowledgment that the referees blew it, but the explanation given for why Jermaine O’Neal‘s goaltend — which wasn’t called and enabled Stephen Curry to run down the court and bury a game-winning shot — basically had to be called anyway.
“The exact trajectory of the ball when touched was impossible to ascertain with the naked eye, and the play was not reviewable,” said NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn in a statement. So according to Thorn, there’s basically no way the referees could have gotten the call right on a play that can happen at almost any time.
Monta Ellis‘ floater upon review was clearly yanked out of the air by O’Neal as the ball was on it’s way down, but the “naked eye” is not capable of detecting it? Dirk Nowitzki‘s naked eye detected it and barked at the officials about it post-game. Even if what the NBA is saying is true, it effectively translates to the NBA admitting that their refereeing and replay system is an utter joke.
Some can point out that the Mavericks have benefited twice this season on late blown calls in games against the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans, and that last night’s blown call is simply a make-up call or poetic justice or whatever. However, those games were not as crucial as the one against the Warriors the other night, which was as close to a playoff game as you can get.
Of course, the Mavericks cannot afford to dwell on this. The team has to move on, and who knows? Maybe it will get Nowitzki mad, and he and the Mavericks will turn this negative into a positive.