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Have NBA officials lost their credibility?

Ever since the Tim Donaghy scandal from a few years back, the NBA has had to deal with countless questions and criticisms related to the credibility of their officials. Now, watching the current NBA playoff series between the Celtics and Magic, all kinds of negative thoughts are being stirred up for me.

Tim Donaghy

I would hate to think that games are being “thrown,” which would completely erase any remaining credibility the NBA has in my eyes. I love watching the NBA but I constantly find myself asking whether a particular call was serious. A major problem is that all officials are different in their perceptions of what constitutes a foul, or a travel for example. Traveling all together is out of control in the NBA and it seems as if it is rarely called, despite the fact that it happens often.

Foul calls are another subjective area for officials. It seems like sometimes officials will call any kind of contact a foul, which often leads to me yelling at the TV to let them play. Other times, nothing is a foul. Then again, sometimes, one team is getting called for everything, while the other gets called for nothing. Furthermore, we even see the calls shift to favor one team, while neglecting another. As a huge Celtics fan, when I attend games, I sometimes find myself staring at the JumboTron looking at the foul category. Seeing all of one team’s players with 2, 3 or even 4 fouls and the other team with 0 or 1 for each player, makes me question the officials.

Take a quick look at the Celtics Magic series which is going on right now. In game five, Kendrick Perkins, received two technical fouls. This lead to his ejection from the game in the second quarter and a possible suspension from the league (as those were his sixth and seventh technical fouls of the playoffs). The first technical was a bad call, as Perkins accidentally elbowed Gortat when his hand slipped off of Paul Pierce’s as he tried to help him up. The second technical call was absurd. Perkins was called for a foul and as emotions run high in the playoffs, walked away from the referee to express his emotions somewhere else. He was called for a technical foul as he walked away, leading to his ejection.


The referees single handedly could have altered this playoff series with their technical foul calls. Perkins’ second technical was rescinded by the league, meaning he can stay in the series. Had the league not rescinded it, however, this could have completely changed the fate of the Celtics. By eliminating their best low post defender and most effective big man, the Celtics would no longer have someone to effectively combat Dwight Howard.

I hate to say it but the NBA officials have lost the benefit of the doubt in my opinion. I find myself asking whether or not they are being serious with some of their calls. Other times it seems like they aren’t paying attention. Hopefully, and I mean hopefully, it boils down to them not being good at their jobs. I say hopefully because I’d rather the reason be that they aren’t good ref’s rather than them cheating and throwing the games. The bottom line is at times officials are having too much impact on the outcome of these games. A single foul or technical foul can swing momentum in favor of one team, against another, and potentially change a game or even a series.

If another scandal is found out, there would be huge consequences for the NBA and league commissioner David Stern. This would change professional sports as we know it in the United States. Basketball as a business would be very negatively impacted and the league would have a long road building their credibility back amongst fans. Advertisers may be less willing to shell out their money, as it could lead to them being associated with a cause that isn’t credible and is known for cheating. On a smaller scale this is the reason why so many sponsors dropped Tiger Woods after his scandal. The impact of another referee scandal would have enormous repercussions for the business of the NBA.

What do you think? Is the NBA still credible in your eyes?


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