NBA FINALS, KOBE-LEBRON- NOT

June 2, 2009

Bill Dwyer talked about the zebras, and the responsibility load they have to bear, in the LA Times. “We’re embarking into another couple of weeks of silliness, aka the NBA Finals. Think of it as the prelude to the parade.
The silliness is not the players, who are all marvelous athletes. Nor is it the competition format, which only follows the lead of most organized sports these days. That means seasons that are way too long, followed by playoffs even longer, leading to the exhaustion of everybody involved except for those benefiting the most — television, team owners and Madison Avenue ad people.
No, the silliness is the game itself, as it has been allowed to evolve.  
The game as it is played today is impossible to officiate.
Officiating in the NBA is not a sweet science. It’s not even a science. It is survival.
The court’s too small, the players are too big and too fast, the rules are too funky, and the pressure to cater to superstars is too severe. There used to be
two referees working games, now there are three. They could have 10 and it wouldn’t matter.
They have a rule against standing in the lane for more than three seconds. That’s a joke.
They have a rule against moving while setting a screen. That’s a joke.
They have a rule against taking more than two steps off the dribble before shooting. That’s a joke.
What our high school coaches taught us to avoid is now done every time down the court in the NBA and the TV broadcasters call them “great moves.”
Referees used to call that “walking.”
NBA officials are now calling so many fouls and whistling so many game stoppages that if they called all this other stuff too, the games would last four hours.
Then there is a relatively new concept made popular in the last few years by the men in front of microphones sitting courtside. It is called the “great non-call.”
That apparently means that the specific physical assault that took place was not severe enough — no broken bones protruding or gashes needing stitches,
apparently — to warrant blowing a whistle.
Take, for example, last year’s incident when Derek Fisher of the Lakers draped several portions of his body over Brent Barry of the San Antonio Spurs,
who was taking a last-second shot.
No whistle blew, and afterward, the consensus seemed to be that it was a great non-call. That must have been because Barry didn’t have to be put into
traction. (playground rules- no blood, no foul).
In one recent preseason, referees were encouraged to slap technical fouls on any players arguing a call, throwing up their hands in complaint
or even rolling their eyes in disgust. The league said it was tired of players showing up officials.                                                                                                                         
They also have rules now about how many technical fouls a player can have before he is suspended for a game. But they make sure that, in their review
process and reversals the next day, that is not going to happen, especially to any of their superstars.                                                                                               
So, each night, into this cesspool of thinly veiled athletic competition step three people who are equipped with whistles, determined to do their best under  impossible circumstances and are well paid for carrying out these charades.

Don’t get mad at them. Pray for them.

Bruce Jenkins commented about the NBA Laker-Cavalier series and said: “As much as we all wanted to see LeBron and Kobe square off for the title, this
is a much better matchup than Lakers-Cavs. You can’t win the title with just one star, and even LeBron couldn’t overcome that dose of reality. He’s Oscar
Robertson, unable to get past Bill Russell’s Celtics in the early 60s. He’s Bernard King, the unstoppable one-man show whose 1984 New York Knicks
took Larry Bird’s Celtics to the seven-game limit in the Eastern semifinals. He’s Michael Jordan in ’86, scoring 63 points at the Boston Garden but unable to  carry the Bulls (who were swept in three) by himself

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