Archive for July 24th, 2007



Everybody is talking about how the NBA’s credibility has taken such a huge hit because of this Donaghy scandal.  All I have to say is, what credibility?

Look, you’re not going to find a bigger NBA fan around.  I don’t even like college basketball beyond watching it for NBA prospects.  But who in the world was watching the NBA on a regular basis and thinking,

“These referees really are doing a good job.  I have faith that the team that best combined effort and ability on a given night won every night I watched.  I don’t remember watching a game where the refs influenced which team won by doing more or less than officiating the game exactly as it was played.”

Honestly, I can’t remember watching a game where I didn’t feel the referees intentionally ignored a foul that happened or called a phantom foul on purpose at least once.  People who love watching the NBA watch it in spite of the officiating, not because they have faith in the refs.  Basketball is the most entertaining sport in the world to watch and the NBA has the best basketball players and many of the best athletes in the world.  That’s why I’ve watched the NBA my entire life.  That’s why I’ll watch on opening night of the ’07-’08 season and for the foreseeable future.  Will I begin to have faith in the referees?  Something drastic would have to change (something I can’t even imagine happening) for me to believe they’re calling the game like they see it.  Will I trust them any less after this Donaghy scandal?  No.  I never trusted them to begin with so why would I trust them any less now?


Donaghy influenced Bulls vs. Warriors

The New York Times reported:

As F.B.I. officials, the news media and fans pore over video footage of
games refereed by Tim Donaghy, looking for curious foul calls and other
such behavior, several seconds of a game between the Chicago Bulls and
the Golden State Warriors in February could attract attention.
Donaghy, who resigned recently after completing his 13th season with the
N.B.A., is under federal investigation for suspected betting on games in
which he officiated and for an association with organized crime.

The Bulls-Warriors game of Feb. 9, played at Golden State and broadcast
on ESPN, was tied, 112-112, with 23 seconds remaining. While a Bulls
guard dribbled between midcourt and the 3-point shot line — clearly
working the clock down for an attempt at a final shot — Warriors center
Andris Biedrens stood in the lane without guarding anyone for about
seven seconds, which is grounds for a defensive three-seconds violation.

Donaghy, stationed behind Biedrens on the baseline, clearly stepped
forward and tapped Biedrens on the waist with 16 seconds left. Biedrens,
by then at the edge of the lane, then immediately moved clear of the
paint, and play continued.

The penalty for defensive three seconds is the assessment of a technical
foul and retention of the ball. Golden State could have faced a 3- or
4-point deficit before getting the ball back.

Instead, the Bulls had a shot blocked with six seconds left, and Golden
State missed a half-court heave to leave the score tied as regulation
time ran out. The Warriors won in overtime, 123-121. According to several
gambling Web sites, the odds opened with the Warriors favored by a point
and a half.

A veteran official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because speaking
with the news media violates the referees’ collective-bargaining
agreement with the N.B.A., said that in such a situation he would not
have blown the whistle because the violation was too trivial in a crucial
moment. “I would let the players determine the game,” he said.

The official added that touching a player or providing any sort of a
warning that a whistle is imminent — from either that referee or another
on the floor — is forbidden.

“I would never touch him — it would show up on tape,” the official said.
“We used to be able to say something like ‘Get out! Get out!’ But they
said that was cheating. We considered it game management.”

Fans of every team that have reason to think Donaghy may have caused their team to lose a game it had a legitimate chance of winning have a right to be upset.  However, as Bulls fans we have more right than most given that the Bulls finished the season just one game behind the Cavs and owned the tiebreaker between the two teams.  Had the Bulls won just one more game, such as this game against the Warriors, they would have had the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and at least have been in the Eastern Conf. finals.  The Bulls fell to the Pistons and still would have had to play them in this scenario.  However, they would have faced the aging Pistons one round later and thus maybe caught them a with less energy.  A trip to the Finals wouldn’t have been out of the question and the Bulls match up much better with the Spurs than the Cavs do.  We’re not saying what would and wouldn’t have happened with this one win, we’re just saying . . .

 However, Suns fans may have to most to be upset about.


Donaghy and Hinrich

There are only two big NBA stories out there right now.  Tim Donaghy and Team USA.  If we approach these stories from a Bulls point of view we have the “Headbandgate” game and Kirk Hinrich.  Let’s look at Headbandgate first.

The Tribune’s K.C. Johnson informs us that Donaghy worked three Bulls games last season.  Of those three the Headbandgate game clearly stands out.  For anybody who doesn’t remember the game that came to be known as Headbandgate (it’s an annoying name, we know) was a Bulls vs. Knicks game on November 25.  Ben Wallace had apparently become upset with both Skiles and Paxson in the preceding days.  He knew the Bulls had a rule against wearing headbands (a terrible rule by the way.  there’s no way to explain it other than they don’t want their players to look like thugs).  Wallace brought a headband to the game and put it on.  Skiles pulled him and told him he had to remove it.  He removed it but was benched again soon.  The Bulls new $60 million man played under 30 minutes that game and wasn’t happy about it.  When he did make it back into the game he put the headband back on in a direct defiance of Skiles’ orders.  Skiles soon pulled him and he didn’t see the floor again.  Interestingly this game served as a turning point for the Bulls season and Wallace’s relationship with the team.  He became much more involved after that game and the Bulls turned around from their awful start to the season.  Wallace made a statement to team management that he was a veteran and 4 time Defensive Player of the Year.  He would not be treated like a rookie.  The Bulls listened and shortly after the incident Wallace was saying he knew it would help the team.

Lost in all the headband hype was the fact that the refs made some quirky calls during the game.  The Bulls were up by 22 at halftime, but the Knicks attempted 16 free throws in the first 5 and half minutes of the third quarter while the Bulls attempted only two.  Skiles was called for two techs in that span and thus ejected by Donaghy’s crew.  Donaghy’s crews called more technical fouls last season than any other crew.  Without seeing the footage we can’t tell which ref called Skiles for the techs, but we do know that Skiles thought one was fishy. 

That night he said, “The ejection, I deserved. I deserved the second technical. I didn’t care for the first one that much. He was joking with me, I joked with him and he gave me a technical. Technically, you’re not allowed to comment.”

Was Donaghy trying to bring the scores closer together to cover a point spread?  Who really knows, but that game could very well go into a handful of games that will be used as evidence against him. 

NBullsA was upset to find out that an NBA ref was involved in a gambling scandal, however not surprised to find that a ref may have been intentionally influencing the outcome of games for personal or private reasons.  The biggest problem in the NBA is the inconsistency of how the games are called.  The inconsistency is so glaring that we have no doubt that it’s not random.  We never thought of gambling interests before.  Instead we assumed NBA league office mandates that playoff series should be extended whenever possible and stars SHOULD NOT foul out of games.  Also, we were pretty sure that certain refs had issues with certain players and let their whistles settle the score.  Whether it’s personal vendettas, league mandates or mob influence the NBA needs to fix the officiating problem. 

On to Team USA.  Kirk Hinrich started in the Blue vs. White game for the Blue team.  He had one nice alley oop pass, but that was about all he did.  He played the second fewest minutes of anyone on the team (two more than JJ Redick), shot 2-7 with 3 turnovers to his one assist.  However, both Hinrich and Chris Paul played very well and had outstanding assist-to-turnover ratios in last summer’s competitions.  With a team featuring so many other explosive scorers you figure they’d need a passing point guard who is a great defender. 

However, this year’s team features Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams, all of whom are bigger than Hinrich and Paul while providing similar skill sets.  Paul is unavailable this summer, but you still have to figure that the eventual 12-man roster won’t feature 4 point guards.  Will Hinrich make the team over the bigger names, perhaps receiving credit for participating last year as well as this year?  At least if he doesn’t make the cut he’ll have more time to recuperate for the upcoming Bulls season. 

Another new addition to this summer’s team is former Bull Tyson Chandler.  Many have speculated that Team USA needed a player like Chandler because they didn’t have a true shot blocker last season.  Chandler did have 2 blocks and led all rebounders with 13 in the exhibition, but Dwight Howard had 2 blocks as well.  We think Tyson is a great player and defender.  He could help the team a lot but he’s a bit overrated as a shot blocker.  He’s never averaged over 1.8 blocks per game despite being a defensive specialist who is over 7 feet tall.  Last season he averaged a career high 35 minutes per game but was unable to top his blocks average from ’04-’05 when he played 27 minutes per game.  We feel Team USA should keep him on the roster because they’ll have plenty of scoring and his defense would be key.  However, with player like Amare Stoudemire, Howard and Chris Bosh all looking like locks it’s very possible Chandler will be cut. 

July 2007
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