Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Playcall: NBA Officiating In The Wake of Donaghy

"The refs suck."

This is, by far, the number one thing I read on comment boards on the blogosphere following a loss. There is nothing that comes close. Not, "we were outplayed," not "Why was Anthony Carter taking our final shot?" not "our coach could be outdone by a baboon. No, it's always, "the refs screwed us." Some bloggers are even victim to it, which is predictable, given that we are, after all, fans first.

But the Donaghy scandal was a serious violation of the trust the fans and league has with the officials. Obviously the players don't seem to care much. But I wanted to get a sense of how people were perceiving the officiating this year. I actually have fewer complaints than I usually do, outside of what I perceive as a serious developing problem of flopping, particularly in San Antonio. But we'll get to that in a minute.

I asked some of the best and the brightest out there in the blogosphere about their opinions on some questions. Here's what they had to say.
Our panel for today:

David and Lee from The Dream Shake
Jeff from CelticsBlog
Josh from 3 Shades of Blue
Josh from Dinosty
Andrew from Empty the Bench
Jeremy from Pick Axe and Roll
HP: This season was supposed to have been overshadowed by the doom of the Donaghy scandal. Yet, it's hardly been mentioned at all, especially with Donaghy's trial recently pushed back to April. Do you think the league has moved past it, or is the worst ahead with the trial? Are you satisfied with the league's response to the scandal?

David from The Dream Shake:

I think the NBA is smart enough not to intentionally "push it" into the background. Meanwhile, the remaining dozen or so true NBA fans know it was just one rogue ref with personal problems and these same fans are smart enough to know that Donaghy's bad decisions do not affect the remaining referees who didn't taint the games. The trial itself (if it lasts longer than a day) will be an interesting week or so for bloggers and comic material, but it will pass rather quick - especially when the playoffs start. As for the league's response, what are they supposed to do? The FBI said to do nothing until they were done investigating, so the Commish's hands were tied. No matter how many mob connections he may have.

Lee Grammier from The Dream Shake:
I think the league has moved past it, and I think most fans have too. I haven't though, the lack of good officials in the league infuriates me. Too many guys are still new and too many should have retired 5-10 years ago. It's just a bad situation all around. The NBA waited way too long to get new blood in there. I always believed that they didn't hire new guys because they had such a tight reign on the guys they had and that only Stern was fixing games, but it turns out that wasn't the case, so they should have hired a lot of new guys a long time ago. And I honestly would not be suprised if during the trial more information about the league fixing games comes out. And I swear I'm not typically a conspiracy guy, I just have see too many game changing bad calls that made no sense.

Jeff from CelticsBlog:
I think the league has moved on. The incident caused the league to take a closer look at its officials, and that is a positive to come out of this. I think for the most part fans are not thinking too much about officials being on the take as many feared. Fans would rather worry about the game than what the officials are doing.

Josh from 3 Shades of Blue:
think that the media has moved beyond the initial firestorm stage and settled into the grind that is the NBA's regular season. However, much like the "Spygate" scandal died down after being front page news at the beginning of the NFL season, only to rear its ugly head once again, I expect that the Donaghy case will pop up at the most inopportune time if it does in fact occur in April, just as the NBA is gearing up for the last few weeks before the postseason -- the only time the really casual fanbase pays attention to the league. I think the absolute worst is behind them....unless Donaghy becomes the Jose Canseco of NBA officiating.

I cannot say that I am satisfied with the league's response until I am convinced that Donaghy was actually acting as a singular entity and that others are not guilty of similar activities. I'm cynical like that.

Josh from Dinosty:
I think the league has done a remarkable job of shuffling Donaghygate under the rug. It's all we talked about during the summer (gotta talk about something) but I am pretty sure most haven't thought twice about it since week 2 of the season. The NBA seems to be more savvy than other pro leagues when it comes to overcoming scandals. It also helps that the league is enjoying one of the most entertaining and interesting regular seasons in recent memory. So I think when we get to trial, it'll be more about the playoff push and all the teams jockeying for position than "rogue" Tim Donaghy in court.

I am absolutely not satisfied with their response. The officiating in the NBA is, by all accounts, not up to the standards of elite professionalism. Stu Jackson should have been fired LONG ago, and I was hoping that it would be the one good thing to come out of the scandal. How is Donaghy the only person left to roast in this shitfire? Of course, the Teflon Screwup is still in a position to singlehandedly destroy another team's season (hello, Phx) this year. That he still has a job is inexplicable.

Andrew from Empty The Bench:
For all the hubbub over the Donaghy Scandal this summer, the whole situation has pretty much blown over. I don't think about it anymore. Opening week even announcer in every city felt the need to address the issue, but after that we haven't heard much about it. I'm satisfied with
the league's actions regarding Donaghy as an individual, but I still think the league's officiating hierarchy needs some work. The officiating department of the league office has some personnel that has no business being there. Also, there obviously needs to be more emphasis put on reviewing game tape, with a statistical analysis of performance included in that. So many stats came to light about Donaghy's tendencies after the scandal that it seems like something that could have been prevented with better statistical analysis.

Jeremy From Pick Axe and Roll:
I think the Donaghy scandal is far from over. Right now there is nothing to talk about, but when the trial starts and details emerge about what games were affected and how fans are going to start to go absolutely insane with anger.

To be honest, I have no idea what the league's response has been to the scandal. From a PR standpoint they have done a good job of proclaiming that they had one crooked ref, they found him and he is gone. They acted as quickly as the FBI would allow them to when the news first came out, but as far as actual procedural changes, I have no idea what they have done other than adjust their background checking system.
Q: What do you think is the biggest issue officiating, and why? Star-preferential treatment, the 3-seconds violation, and of course, flopping are the most common answers. Why do you feel the one you chose is the biggest issue, and why don't the others bother you?

David from The Dream Shake:
The defensive 3 seconds rule. Seriously. If you are going to allow zone defenses - allow a true zone. The defensive 3 is a bullshit rule and only serves to distract referees from paying attention to the real rough stuff going on under the basket *cough* Yaoisfouledoneveryplaydammit! *cough*. Why is it "unfair" for one player to just stand under the basket and guard no one? That means someone is open. It's basic math!

As for the star treatment... that's why we watch. We expect certain players to get the calls. And we are always stunned when they do/don't get the particular treatment we expect. I have no problem with the star system.

Lee from the Dream Shake:
Star treatment wouldn't bother me if Yao got it, but since Tracy is the only guy that gets it (for the 3 minutes a game he drives to the hole) but he doesn't drive enough or play enough for it to help the Rockets. Overall though, not a big deal, that's fine, most of those guys not named Dwayne Wade have earned the benefit of the doubt. 3 seconds on defense is one of my least favorite rules in the league, it's just worthless in every way. Flopping is my number 2, it's the one thing that actually makes me want to watch the NBA less. But number one by far is the half circle under the goal, I wrote about it the other day so I'll just cut and paste "Get rid of the insanely idiotic circle, it helps no one and makes referees have to call something incorrectly just because there is a line on the ground. I cannot count how many times a referee has been about to call a correct charge call and then have to call a block because they looked down and saw a guy who played defense perfectly inside the line. And, since the whistle was blown they had to call something. Get rid of it." I put this as my number one issue with officiating because it puts them in the most bad positions. Flopping is close though.

Jeff from CelticsBlog:
I am probably most offended (in theory) by the star-preferential treatment because it goes against what officials should strive for, which is consistency. Nobody is going to call a perfect game. You can't call all the fouls there are in a game. What you can do is make the same calls regardless of the color of one's jersey or the Q rating of the name on the back of it. Of course, it was much easier to get upset about this when my team didn't have 3 superstars.

Josh from 3 Shades of Blue:
The biggest issue with the league has to be different rules for different players. As I see it, there are 3 categories, which are fairly exclusive unto themselves. Then there is a qualifier that crosses all those boundaries.

First the qualifier: Reputation. A player with a solid defensive reputation (Bruce Bowen) is allowed more freedom to "bend the rules" than a player with a poor defensive reputation. A player with an established reputation of driving to the hole and getting fouled (Dwyane Wade) will get more calls on less contact than a player who is known for being a jumpshooter.

Now for the categories:

1) Stars -- The stars of the league get preferential treatment. No one can deny that and they would look foolish if they attempted to do so. However, in doing this, the officials are giving a player that already has an inherent advantage (being better than opposing players, i.e. more talented or skilled) and even greater advantage by favoring them on judgement calls that could go either way. That is something that incurs the wrath of many fans who proclaim the NBA officials to be as unbiased as WWE refs.

2) Veterans -- A veteran will typically get the benefit of the doubt over a younger player. This is mostly due to the fact that they have had an opportunity to establish a rapport with the officials and gain some level of familiarity with them.

3) Rookies/Younger players -- Rookies do not get calls in the NBA. There is no other way to say it. During a recent Mavs-Grizzlies contest, on a fastbreak opportunity a long outlet pass went down the left side of the court towards rookie Juan Carlos Navarro. Josh Howard used both hands to spin JCN around and gather in the ball directly in front of the official who swallowed his whistle and allowed the foul to occur, leading to a Howard layup. Navarro has been the victim of several calls this year that can only be described as "rookie calls".

Even the NBA broadcasters have not only noted this, but apparently accepted it by often saying, "Well, he's a rookie, so he's not going to get that call." I'm sorry, when exactly did your status in the league affect how the rules were interpreted? A foul is a foul is a foul. Unless it happened to Dwyane Wade and then it is two fouls plus possession after the fact.

The other issues (especially flopping) are a result of the Reputation Rule, IMO. That's why Ginobili can flop all day and never get a blocking call go against him, as well as why Iverson gets to push off on his way to the bucket consistently.

Josh from Dinosty:
The biggest issue for me is consistency. First of all, call traveling on ALL players, not just guys who have been in the league three years or less. I don't care for the argument that 'if they call traveling the way it's written, they'd call it on every play'. Bullshit. The players would figure it out fast - it's called in college - and we wouldn't have to watch AI and Wade take four steps when it's called on rookies for taking three.

And stupid touch fouls - guys like Bargnani pick them up when they barely play defence, and guys like Bowen, who are up in your jock for the full 48, clawing and scratching and pulling, rarely foul out. This is not only unfair, but completely counterproductive to gameflow and personnel improvement.

Star treatment is also a major source of irritation. No wonder the highest paid players lead the league in scoring - they get more fouls called for them, less traveling violations, less carrying's a self-fulfilling cycle. The flopping's irritating but honestly I don't see anyone doing anything about it, so I'll refrain from bursting too many capillaries writing about it.

And finally, where's the f*cking video replay? Can anyone really make an argument against this innovation? There's an overwhelming sense of (misplaced) pride in the front office, where they're sort of like Bush and not willing to admit mistake, ever, as if they have blinders on. It's not going to hurt anyone - just do it.

Andrew from Empty the Bench:
The three-second violation is clearly annoying. It's a lot like holding in the NFL, where you feel like it could almost be called on any given play, and when your team does get whistled for it the timing seems completely arbitrary. That said, as a fan we rarely watch the big men down low when the ball is on the perimeter, and I think that's what makes it frustrating, the fact that we don't see it. But it rarely affects the outcome of games. Flopping is also very disconcerting, especially with all of these international players shamelessly falling all over the place. But neither of those things has such a direct impact on late-game situations as star treatment, especially in the playoffs. Dwyane Wade is a terrific player, but when he can get to the line 46 times in the two clinching NBA Finals games as he did in 2005-06, something is wrong. It's not fair to teams who play great basketball but aren't built around a slashing star, and it's not good basketball to watch.

Jeremy from Pick Axe and Roll:

The primary officiating issue to me is consistency, or should I say the lack thereof. That may be a copout because it actually encapsulates all of the issues listed above, but I want to see every game called the same way. The style of play can be drastically different from game to game due to the way the refs interpret the rules. The Mavericks actually started charting the way games were called a few years ago in an attempt to use that info to their advantage depending on which referees were assigned to their games.

A recent example of inconsistency was Carmelo Anthony was absolutely beat down by the Blazers in their last game against them and it was endorsed by the refs by their refusal to blow the whistle. Then again there are other games where Melo is barely touched and he gets to the line repeatedly.

The issue of consistency is also represented in the "superstar calls" that you mentioned. The 2006 Finals were reduced to a joke by the way Dwyane Wade was ushered to the foul line over and over again by the refs. If a player like Wade is legitimately hacked and earns 20 free throws then so be it, but do not protect him or give him a free pass when he is out of control because he is able to contort his body awkwardly and it looks weird.

Perhaps the real problem we have as fans is that we never know what the league is doing behind the scenes to try to make things better. All we hear over and over is that David Stern believes the NBA has the best refs in all of professional sports. Well, game after game we see officiating making a major impact on the end of games. Is something being done about it, and if so, what? Other sports, especially college football, will admit quickly that an official made a mistake. It seems like once every other week the SEC is sending out an announcement that there was some kind of snafu and the ref has been suspended or something like that. Obviously there is a balance between selling your officials out and exposing them to too much criticism and letting the public know that there was a mistake made and it has been addressed. The admission of a game changing mistake does not change the standings, but fans have a sense of closure due to the fact that the mistake was acknowledged and actions were taken to rectify it.

Also, we know how the refs are graded and watch hours of film in an attempt to improve their performance, but if we knew exactly what calls they are working on getting right it would be a tremendous encouragement. Every offseason we hear about the refs are going to focus on palming the ball or some such relatively small infraction like that. We never hear that the league is going to look into end of game situations or if certain players get an unfair advantage because they tend to drive awkwardly to the basket.
Q: Grade the officiating work you've seen this year. Try and be objective, as hard as it may be.

David from The Dream Shake:
On some games the officiating has been very good and consistent. I don't care if you want to let them play or call every ticky-tack foul. Just be consistent. Lately, however, the referees have been horrible. I watch every Rockets game... and I recognize it's nearly impossible to fairly ref Yao because he's so big. But Yao isn't even the issue most of the time. Unless Baron Davis runs right into Yao when YAO has the ball and Baron falls down and they call a foul on Yao (yeah, that makes sense). I've seen some insane loose ball fouls that are pure phantom calls. Refs just *expect* a certain type of play/foul - so they anticipate it and blow the whistle even if it doesn't play out as they imagined.

Oh, and Bennett Salvatore has to go.

Lee from The Dream Shake:
I so badly want to put an F here, but there have been some exceptionally well officiated games that I've seen. I have a long history of refereeing and just don't have time for it. It's hard as shit, you will make 2-3 mistakes guaranteed every single game no matter how good you are. The problem is that the guys in the NBA have gone to a much more anticipatory style of refereeing. It's poor technique and honestly the first thing I ever taught to the 100's of refs I've trained. You simply cannot blow the whistle unless you see something. Even if you know something had to have happened, you do not blow the whistle unless you actually see something happen. This has become worse and worse every year. I'll give the refereeing a C-, with a few A++ games averaging out with the Fs I've seen.

Jeff from CelticsBlog:
I don't know, I guess I'd give it a C+ or a B- or something like that. I'm going to use this space to rant a bit. You know what bothers me even more than bad officiating? Fan that keep bringing up bad officiating over and over again, blaming it on his/her team's woes. Give me a break. Let's look at this rationally for a moment. Refs may make bad calls that cost your team a game from time to time, but the rule of averages indicates that the refs will also make bad calls that benefit your team from time to time as well.

I'm of the opinion that these factors average out over a regular season and usually in the playoffs as well. The only way it wouldn't average out is if the refs actually had a collective vendetta or decree sent down from David Stern himself. Such conspiracy theories can be fun fodder for barroom jokes at a ref's expense. But to actually put validity to them is just plain sad. Maybe the world really is out to get you and your team. But perhaps the more rational explanation is that you are having trouble accepting that your team doesn't always play well enough to win. Just a thought.

Josh from 3 Shades of Blue:
Over on the Grizzlies Message Board, one of our good friends has been asking the fans to grade the officials for each game and is keeping up with the results, as well as which refs/units get the best/worst scores. Honestly, I've seen some good games, some average games and some horrific games by the officials this season. There has been no improvement over the last few seasons, in my opinion. I'd have to give them a "C" because they have officiated games in the manner which I have come to expect according to the "unofficial rules" they now interpret everything by.

Josh from Dinosty:
I expected them to bring in some young, disciplined officials to show they were serious about cleaning up the mess. Yeah, not so much. Please, PLEASE retire guys like Dick Bavetta and Joey Crawford. Dick's 300 years old and Joey's had a few too many calzones. How are these guys supposed to keep stride up and down the court with the chiseled gazelles playing the game? It's no wonder they botch so many calls, often relying on transparent intangibles like 'experience' to bail/explain their decisions.

I'm going to give the overall officiating a D. Until you can make the same call on both ends of the court, on any player, in any situation, they won't climb higher than that. There is one rulebook for ALL players; it's not a tiered scale based on experience/exposure. These guys are supposed to set the standard, and instead they're influencing the outcome of WAY too many games. Phx got robbed of a championship last year - I'm pretty certain about that.

Andrew from Empty the Bench:
The reffing in the NBA will always be more difficult than it is in sports like baseball and football because basketball is such a fluid, dynamic game. In almost every moment of every game, the officials are choosing not to make a potential call. The rules of NBA basketball are also significantly more nebulous than they are in other sports. Of course, we see bad calls every night. But when you take in the degree of difficulty and the constant nature of NBA officiating, I think the refs have done a fine job this season. From what I've seen it's actually been better than what we've had in recent years, probably because of increased pressure and scrutiny the officials are feeling from the scandal.

Jeremy from Pick Axe and Roll:
I honestly believe the referees have been better this year than any of the previous three or four seasons. Maybe the league has done something behind the scenes to tighten things up, but I am sure I am in the minority and most people will continue to say that things are worse than ever.

I gage that by the fact that I find myself becoming angry at the refs less so far this season than other recent seasons. Either officials are doing their jobs a little better or I am maturing. If you decide it is the latter, can you please tell my wife? I think if she hears it from someone else, she just might believe it.

No matter how good or bad the officiating is people are going to complain. I sit in front of my father in law every game my son plays in and listen to him complain after call after call whether it was a good call or not. Our biases will always lead us to believe our team is getting hosed by the refs, but how many games have you seen this season that was decided by the refs?
Q: Flopping is probably the most-discussed issue in terms of officiating. The problem is that there is no clear way to stem the tide. And unlike baseball, football, or hockey, this is an issue that legitimately can be the difference between winning and losing. Do you feel that flopping is an issue, and if so, what's your solution for snuffing it out?

David from The Dream Shake:
Flopping is definitely an issue, but it works both ways. If a player charges into you but you don't fall to the ground - it's usually a non-call. This only encourages players to "flop"/fall and make sure a call is made one way or another. Of course, the Derek Fishers, Manu Ginoblis, Anderson Varejaos and the like... they can suck my balls. I hope a train runs over them when they flop.

Matt Bullard had a good idea - on a "flagrant flop" - you can actually call it a flagrant foul, as it is a non-basketball move that can be classified as a Flagrant 1 as it is defined in the rulebook. These add up and can lead to a suspension if you don't cut the s--t out. A pretty strong deterrent factor which might rid the game of an unnecessary and ugly element.

Lee from The Dream Shake:
Flopping as I said above is the one thing about the NBA that makes me not want to watch. Even the bad refereeing doesn't often make me feel that way. I wrote about this the other day and said this: "Rid them game of flopping. There are two ways to do this. A. Whoever initiates the contact is the fouler, that's about as basic as it gets B. After each and every game the league needs to fine players, even to the level of suspension to eliminate flops. That will keep guys on their feet, and it will help protect the players because bodies won't be flying in the same way. How will the NBA know if a guy flopped? Common sense, it's all there in the video and the body language, they just need to use their judgement. " I like the idea of a flagrant 1 being called if it is blatantly obvious, but I'd much rather have every game video reviewed to clean the game up. If you are going to flop, at least have a reason for it. Garnett, Ginobli and Varejao I'm talking to you.

Jeff from Celtics Blog:
If refs start calling technicals for flops, that might stem the tide a little bit, but it won't put an end to it ever. It is just a matter of teams doing it better than others and working around it when teams do it to them.

Josh from 3 Shades of Blue:
Flopping is a massive issue, as it often turns a made basket into not just a turnover, but an additional foul on a player who should probably be going to the free throw line instead. The blocking/charging call is one of the most debated rules everytime it occurs, but I think that the NBA should be able to review the videotapes to find out which players are guilty of "flopping" most often and instruct their officials on what to look for. I remember a few seasons ago, they cracked down on "moving screens" and really targeted Yao Ming after a few coches complained about him in particular being guilty of that offense. In the same manner, players who learned from Vlade Divac (the Jedi master of flopping), such as poster boy Manu Ginobili should be punished for their attempts to gain an advantage, rather than rewarded for fooling the refs. After all, that's how most of the rules in the NBA are decided anyways -- by one player receiving an unfair advantage over an opponent due to their actions, whether it be palming, carrying, traveling, 3 seconds in the lane or a hand-check making the transition to full-blown foul.

Josh from Dinosty:
As I said before, flopping doesn't grind my gears the way some other issues do. The officials should be on the lookout for this activity and give unsportsmanlike conduct techs to anyone 'caught' flopping. I'm not talking 'maybe he did, maybe he didn't' calls, but the obvious, Ginobili/Varaejo jobbies should get flagged and penalized.

Andrew from Empty the Bench:
Flopping is obviously an issue, and players like Manu Ginobili, Anderson Varejao and Bruce Bowen drive me crazy. Still, I don't see this being the big issue as most people do. The refs do what they can, and while they make mistakes, it's not significantly more egregious than in other aspects of officiating- it just seems like it because it's a dramatic play. There's been some chatter in the rules committee about making a flop a foul, and that would be a step in the right direction. I don't need to see a ton of fouls called for flopping, but I think there needs to be some kind of deterrent in the back of players heads. Perhaps the best thing would be to make it a violation, like illegal defense, so that it doesn't count toward a player's foul total but simply gives the opposing team one or two free throws and the ball. Right now there's just no reason a playerwouldn't TRY to flop if they're beat, and see what happens.

Jeremy from Pick Axe and Roll:
Flopping is a problem, but I think it is not nearly the problem it was two or three years ago. Refs know they look really bad when the give a player who flops a foul so they usually want to make sure that the play is a foul and not a flop before they call anything. The refs study plenty of film and they know who the floppers are. They know what players consistently try to trick them. The refs do not want to be played for fools and they are watching out for floppers.

The best example of how officials have stopped getting suckered in by floppers is Manu Ginobili. In the 2005 playoffs Manu flopped his way through round after round. He consistently threw his hands up and acted like he had been hit by a taser whenever someone got near him. Over time the refs quit falling for his act. There was a play last year, I believe it was in the playoffs, where he was hit hard enough in the face while driving to the basket that he ended up with a black eye. There was no call on the play.

In the past Manu fooled the refs into a lot of calls because of his hair that constantly ebbed and flowed like Pocahontas' hair in the Disney cartoon. He ended up cutting his hair because refs stopped falling for it and probably because someone finally told him looked like a butt ugly chick. Now in a case of divine justice he has the best known bald spot in the NBA.

Currently on a nightly basis I watch Allen Iverson flop over and over when he hit by a screener. He throws his head back and his arms flail in the air as he lets out a loud yelp. He almost never gets the call though because the refs know he does it and they know by now to ignore it.

There have been calls to make the act of flopping a foul, but I do not believe you need to penalize floppers beyond not calling the foul because their actions are self penalizing. When a flop is not called the player that flops is punished by the fact that he takes himself out of the play. If he flops on defense his man now has a huge advantage and if he flops on offense, he has lost the chance to score.

A potential solution to bounce around:

I have wondered about adding a fourth ref for every game. As we know the game keeps getting faster and players more athletic. Adding an additional set of eyes and thus reducing the amount of responsibility for each official may lead to better officiating. If I was a better blogger I would look deeper into how the refs work together now and devise an organized plan for adding the fourth official. But I didn't, sorry about that. At the very least it gives us one more dude to yell at during games.
It's interesting how Donaghy has fallen off the radar. The Carolina Panthers steroid scandal got more scrutiny than this. Maybe it's that everyone that's qualified to judge these things is satisfied with the results. But with all the articles, the outrage, the questionable integrity of the league, you'd think there would be more. Furthermore, you'd think the referees would be looking to clear their names more actively. Abbott's been all over this, but for the most parts the refs have primarily just gone back to work. I guess the matter's been handled to it's fullest extent.

I will say that the issue of flopping as outlined by Josh from 3 Shades above is a very serious one. We're not just talking about the defensive flops that result in turnovers. The senseless diving to the ground on offense draws an additional foul on another player, limiting their ability to contribute in crucial moments, while simultaneously creating additional points that the player has not earned.

I think the flopping issue if fascinating from a comparative approach. For example, no other sport has an in-game rule that is as truly result-altering and yet widely practiced. In baseball, there is substances being placed on pitched balls and the risk of corked bats, but to be caught actually performing one of these acts is cause for disgrace and outrage. In football, holding occurs regularly on both sides of the ball, yet most coaches will tell you that it's rare when holding is called when it's not deserved. Yet in basketball it's happening every single night. Players are literally "faking" fouls and injury. If you want the definition of deception in a sporting event, this is clearly it. Only you're not fooling the players, you're fooling the officials. You're fooling the game. When Manu Ginobili drives and is met head on by a solid defensive player, fails to make the field goal, and suddenly winds up on his back, and thereafter heads to the free throw line, he has just beat the system.

This should not be tolerated.

It would be one thing if it were an occasional problem that is witnessed once a month or so. But every game now is littered with this problem. It's not really an issue? How is it, then, that it's so obvious Eva Longoria pointed out that Parker's literally "faking" injury? And yet, there was no reaction from the league on this act.

There are games being decided by this act. Games which influence whether teams make the playoffs or not, whether they win a series or not. Not to bring this up again (that's a lie, of course I mean to bring this up again), but the Suns can lose two players for standing up and taking two steps, while players that pull this are winning games because of it?

What do you think about the officiating this season?

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