It does not matter which team you are rooting for, I think that everyone agrees that the refereeing in the NBA playoffs has been pretty foul this year.
Lost in the translation has been whether an act is a foul, a flagrant one foul, a flagrant two foul, or just incidental basketball contact. And was that a question, a passing comment, trash talking or a technical foul? The only thing consistent has been the inconsistency of it all.
For now, let’s put aside the missed goaltending calls, the missed travelling calls, the missed player’s stepping out of bounds, and the missed decisions on knocked the ball out of bounds. It’s not that thes are rare errors. Heck, there’s probaly at least a dozen bad / missed calls that fall into these categories every game. It’s just that the foul situation is particularly perplexing. And every foul called or not called not only has an immediate effect on a game, but also a possible cumulative impact on the overall outcome.
In the closing seconds of game 4, with the game no longer in doubt, the Lakers got the ball and pushed it up the court and flipped it to Paul Gasol who was waiting for it under the basket. Much to the disgust of Mickael Pietrus, Gasol decided to dunk the ball. So Pietrus rushed at him with both fists clenched and gave him a sharp double forearm punch in the back. A cheap play, meted out as punishment against a player for scoring when there was no reason to do so.
He was not playing the ball. He was not attempting to stop the shot. He was just looking to inflict some physical harm, and pretty much said so in the verbal confrontation with Gasol when the play was over. The ref’s called a flagrant one foul on the play, but it was clear this would probably be upgraded to a flagrant two foul with Pietrus suspended for game 6 when the league office took a look at the replay.
Of course, what is obvious to a fan is not so obvious to Stu Jackson. He deemed that no further action was warranted against Pietrus. Huh?
In his explanation, Stu Jackson said, “”What I saw Pietrus do was slightly wind up, make contact with Gasol with both of his arms in Gasol’s back. A flagrant foul-penalty two for excessive contact or more severe contact typically results in a more physical outcome for the offended player. Sometimes they involve injury. But this particular foul did not fall into that category of excessive. A reasonable person could argue that it approached that, but given past flagrant fouls that we’ve reviewed, we — or I — felt that it fell in the category of a flagrant foul-penalty one.”
Ok, let me get this straight. Because Gasol is tall and was able to grab onto the rim to protect himself from injury, it was ok what Pietrus did. But if Gasol slipped and fell and suffered a career ending injury, then the foul might have been upgraded? Unlike normal society, the calls have nothing to do with the act itself and the intent of the act? So small guys can punch big guys all they want because the big guys won’t feel it so much, but big guys better not lay a finger on on the smaller players, or else? Hmmm. I wondered whether Stu Jackson was bullied when he was a kid.
Mike Lee www.BeedoSafety.com