The NBA has been expanding the use of instant replay on an annual basis for a few years now, and to this point I’ve had no issue with that. While I’d hate to see the NBA turn into the NFL with a debate to be had and replays to be shown following the majority of sequences, I think I speak for all fans of the sport when I say I want to see correct calls made. One would think the expanded use of replay would help officials to do this, and I do believe it has… but there are too many cases in which it does not.
I try to cut officials some slack in regards to their real-time decisions. NBA basketball is often played at a hypersonic pace, and these refs are expected to make difficult calls without the benefit of slow motion or multiple angles. For the most part, I think the majority of the league’s officials do a pretty good job, and I understand that human error will always be part of the game. That being said, I cannot excuse a referee for f@cking up a call that they were able to spend five minutes reviewing. For example, the ruling of flagrant penalty one was upheld after a review of the following play.
Unless the NBA is suggesting that defenders should simply allow an offensive player to finish after the whistle, I don’t see how this can be ruled a flagrant foul. The NBA’s definition of a flagrant penalty one is as follows:
A flagrant foul-penalty (1) is unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.
Okay, so my question is this: what did JR Smith do that was unnecessary? Had he not held Tony Allen’s arm for a brief moment Allen likely would’ve ripped right through the swipe and dunked the ball with ease. Note that Allen was able to finish the play anyway, despite the “flagrant” hold.
Based on calls like this one, I believe NBA officials need to better understand that it doesn’t take violent contact to knock a high-flying player like Tony Allen off balance. A fall to the floor shouldn’t render your standard hand-on-arm contact during a slam dunk attempt anything more than a personal foul. Officials should be instructed to stop assessing the flagrancy of fouls based on the aftermath of the contact. Look at the the contact itself to determine whether or not the line was crossed.
My second example of failure despite replay comes without a video, but you can refer to the 2:11 mark of the third quarter of Dallas @ Indiana if you so choose. During a battle for a loose ball, Vince Carter struck Tyler Hansbrough in the face with the back of his hand. Carter was given a flagrant one, bringing about a mandatory replay. Upon further review, it became clear what had happened: Carter was inadvertently poked in the eye by Hansbrough, and his arms flailed out in reaction to the strike. That’s when his right hand happened to whack Hansbrough, knocking him to the floor. Carter wasn’t looking at Hansbrough when he hit him, nor did it appear that he did it on purpose. The officials determined that no flagrant foul had been committed, but gave Carter a technical foul instead.
How, in an instance where two players accidentally hit each other in the face, can one player be given a technical foul? Quite frankly, it was a decision that defied logic. The right call was an obvious one: downgrade Carter’s flagrant to a personal since going back and citing Hansbrough for his poke to the eye was not an option.
In summation, it simply baffles me that the officials were unable to properly address these two incidents with the use of instant replay. There’s no excuse to get it wrong when you’re allowed to look at the video, yet NBA officials are always bungling flagrant and technical foul scenarios. It’s baffling, really.