Posts Tagged ‘david stern

18
Mar
08

Bulls 97 – Hornets 108 – Unfortunately, winning without a star in the NBA is not a realistic possibility

The Bulls blew this game and there was no excuse.  HOWEVER, the refs helped them out.  Hornets were getting no calls on all sorts of fouls the entire game, especially new NBA golden boy Chris Paul.  I point this out not in an effort to complain about unfairness, I’ve long since given up on the NBA ever attaining fair, quality officiating.  Instead I think the behavior of last night’s crew of referees (Bennett Salvatore,  Leon Wood, and Mark Ayotte, for reference) proves yet again that this is a league in which you must have a superstar player to have a successful team.  The Bulls do not have such a player.

While most NBA fans have known about this requirement for a long time, I’ve stubbornly resisted the theory.  My resistance was a result of enjoying watching team basketball more than watching one amazing athlete charge to the hoop while four other guys on his team stand around.  Think the Cavs or the Heat.  I don’t want to sound like Larry Hughes, but that’s not what basketball is about.  I can appreciate watching a transcendent talent as much as the next person, but that type of talent should sustain a team through offensive droughts as opposed to dominating the ball all game.  Think Jordan during his early years in the league vs. his championship-winning years.  Despite what David Stern says, I believe through and through that the NBA unofficially wholeheartedly disagrees with me.

The NBA wants superstars it can use to sell the game, which makes sense from a business perspective.  I believe that somehow the referees know it is in their best interest to help these superstars emerge and stay as visible and successful as possible each game.  Do I think the NBA takes the refs aside to explicitly list its favorite players and give marching orders?  No.  But David Stern and his people have some influence here and I will never believe otherwise.  In order to win throughout the regular season and even more so in a seven game playoff series a team has to have a star player to get the preferential treatment from the officials.  Once the star stars getting the love from the refs it spreads to the rest of the team.  This requirement existed just as much during the Jordan years as it does today, but in my opinion it’s hurting the game.

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Game observations

Chris Paul, for all my whining, is amazing.  His ball handling abilities are ridiculous.  His court vision appeared supernatural as he shredded the Bulls weak defense with no-look laser passes and alley-oops.  But for all of his freakish abilities he seemed to have just as many character flaws last night.  Despite getting as much star treatment from the refs last night as I’ve seen any player this season get, he still complained about supposed missed calls so much you’d think he was on the Pistons.  It really was tiring.  Also, one of the qualities that makes him so good but that also makes him hard to root for is that he is a cheap shot artist and acting artist.  He got away with murder all night not only because he’s a star, but also because he’s outstanding at sneaking in reaches, holds and slaps and flops at just the right moments.

I like Jim Boylan and wish him success in the future, but he’s in over his head right now.  His attempt at a rotation last night was laughable.  When you have one of the best guards in the league tearing up your defense, why don’t either of your best perimeter defenders (Hinrich and Sefolosha) play even 17 minutes?  Larry Hughes is a good player who can do certain things well, but the Bulls need a coach who is not afraid to bench him when he’s hurting the team.  Last night he was hurting the team for almost the entire game yet Boylan rarely sat him, instead rewarding his poor shot selection and lackadaisical defensive effort with minutes.  It’s not as if there was no quality alternative.  The Bulls are stocked with guards!?!  Being the highest paid player on the team should not necessarily guarantee you minutes every night.  For some reason the Bulls have a big problem understanding that.
I continue to wonder what this team can do in the offseason.  If they get rid of Ben Gordon who carries them through games like last night?  Nobody else currently on the roster can score like that as consistently (note that I wrote as consistently instead of consistently).  Sefolosha and Hinrich probably have some value around the league right now, but who plays man-to-man (not passing lane) defense and who in the world distributes the ball if those two are gone.  Obviously Deng isn’t going anywhere because Paxson would rather shoot himself.  They likely will package Tyrus with somebody so he can go to another team and average 12 and 13 like Tyson Chandler.

If I’m in charge I would amazingly keep most of what’s currently here together.  The other options don’t look to be that great and I think with a leadership change there’s enough talent here to be good.  They don’t have that star player is wrote is so necessary, but they don’t have a way of getting him any time soon.  In my opinion they need to do whatever possible to get rid of Hughes, whether it’s a buyout or another bad contract attached to a more acceptable attitude on the court, his presence will hurt the team. Unfortunately I think unloading him will be next to impossible and will not happen.

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07
Aug
07

Slow times as ChiBulls High

There is less than nothing going on in the world of Bulls news and gossip.  They signed their first and second round picks.  Big surprise.  I guess JamesOn Curry was a bit of a question mark in terms of making the team, but after his summer league performance nobody should be surprised he got the obligatory second-rounder’s unguaranteed contract.  Noah was a given and Aaron Gray was too because of his center size.  You always need a white guy over 7 feet who’s guaranteed to never play more than 5 minutes in a game.  Go back through all of the Bulls teams and you will find this guy.  The always entertaining Paul Shirley even filled this role at one point.

Newly Green

The Celtics started to round out their “championship caliber” team with Eddie House and Scot Pollard.  Not sure those guys will be enough, but you can’t really blame the Celtics.  They’ve made their move and now have to take what they can get for additional help.

 Marty Burns is saying that when the Grizzlies acquired JC Navarro any chance of trading Gasol ended.  I’ve been saying that Gasol to the Bulls chances have been over done for some time so this news doesn’t really affect Chicago.  The Darko signing was the end of Gasol’s chance of getting out of Memphis.  It showed the Griz are interested in building a team for the next 5 years as opposed to the next 10.  Pau will still be plenty good in 5 years. 

 Today’s ESPN TrueHoop quoted the Portland Tribune’s Dwight Jaynes.  He almost perfectly sums up the problem I have with NBA officiating and why I asked, “What credibility?

The league, you see, is asking for uniformity in referee calls — and the
refs think that’s taking away their personality and ability to use their
own fine judgment.
While I sympathize with men attempting to perform one of the world’s
toughest jobs, I find it extremely difficult to agree with them.
A lot of the veteran referees spent many years in the league as
basketball’s version of the Lone Ranger. They roamed the country meting
out their own forms of justice, largely as they pleased. There was
little evaluation, and many of them thought of themselves as larger than
the law.
And now that someone is trying to tell them how to do their job, they’re
very uncomfortable.
But I’m afraid they’re going to have to get used to it or move on.
Standardization of calls and uniformity is exactly what is needed. If
nothing else, it’s a way of trying to eliminate bias — which, as I’ve
written before, is the league’s biggest threat to fair officiating.
Oakland Raiders’ Managing Partner Al Davis, a bit of a rogue himself,
was asked about the NBA’s referee scandal during a news conference
recently and his answer was “I don’t worry about gambling, I worry about
bias.”
A referee trying to manipulate a point spread late in a game to cover a
bet he’s made somewhere? I don’t think there’s any reason to worry about
it. I don’t think it’s going to happen very often.
But officials making certain calls because of a grudge against a player
or a team, yes — I’ve seen it.
Officials so apparently in awe of a certain player they’re reluctant to
call a foul or violation on him? Seen it many times.
Referees with obvious feuds going on against certain players or teams?
Darned right. You’ve seen it, too, if you’ve watched the league for any
time at all.
I don’t think the league, until recently, realized how much this
affected its fan base. This sort of game-to-game bias, as much as any
other thing, has turned millions of fans away from the league. I hear it
constantly from disenchanted NBA fans.
And that’s too bad. NBA referees are tons better than college referees.
But over the years, the league let them enforce the rules in a haphazard
manner — often based on such precepts as rookie or veteran player,
superstar or scrub, great team or cellar dweller — and it has obscured
how well most of them can call a game.
Their personalities sometimes cloud their judgment. And that leaves the
league no choice but to eliminate their personalities.

As a diehard NBA fan I can say that the one and only thing that ever comes close to making me consider giving up my league is the officiating.  I’ve talked to hardcore sports fans who don’t watch the NBA at all because they feel the officials have far too much influence on the outcome of the game.   It is the league’s biggest problem and something has to be done about it.

That said, I’m not sure I agree that the league has finally come to its senses and is now completely trustworthy.  In fact, I believe that some of the bias in how refs call games is a result of the league’s instructing them that they want games and series to remain entertaining as long as possible.  I doubt that the refs are in awe of great players.  The problem more often seems to be that they get into a battle of egos with dominant players and don’t give them calls.  When they are “in awe” of a superstar, I believe, it’s more because the league wants to sell their superstars to the casual basketball fan and it makes sure that the officials know that.  The more times Wade falls down but gets back up again for an and 1 the more time fans will see his handsome face up close at the line and the more points he’ll have in the box score.  If sometimes he goes up, comes down, is never touched and still ends up at the free throw line?  Well, the fans still see more of him, his season scoring average goes up, he appears in some I Love This Game NBA commercials and the referee who made the phantom call gets a on a Finals crew.  It may not be explicitly ordered by David Stern, but I believe the league is behind almost as much bad officiating as the personalities are.  They are both to blame and both need to change. 

 Who wants a random Joakim Noah picture for the day?

Look at the little guy.  It’s a good thing he upgraded from that Knicks jersey.

26
Jul
07

Upside to the Donaghy Scandal

Will the Donaghy scandal ultimately help the NBA more than it hurts?  In David Stern’s opinion probably not.  He feels that the quality of the officiating up to this point has be very strong.  We, however, very much disagree. 

Many have pointed out that one of the big downsides to this whole scandal is that it will make the jobs of the remaining NBA referees even harder because they will be under such intense scrutiny and pressure.  To us that scrutiny is a good thing.  

NBA officials work within the parameters of a star system.  Michael Jordan wasn’t supposed to foul out of the game.  35,000 fans who paid to come see Jordan play would not be happy if he sat down for good early in the 4th quarter with his 5th foul.   David Stern knows that the lifeblood of the NBA is the fans and the refs probably know that also.  The refs don’t call too many fouls on star players and Stern doesn’t complain.  In Jordan’s day the fans left happy after most of his games because they watched his phenomenal cross-overs, dunks and fadeaways for 40+ minutes, including the game’s final few. 

The Donaghy scandal may positively impact the NBA by forcing the officials to call the game as they see it.  The casual fan who only came to see LeBron James may not like it when he fouls out, but the true basketball fans will enjoy a game where every player is competing on a level playing field.  When rookie Joakim Noah is hacked by Dwayne Wade this coming season the ref will have to call the foul, and, call it on Wade instead of nearby Dorell Wright.  Instead of giving the superstar a no-call at the expense of a rookie as refs are known to do, or instead of calling the foul but putting it on the next closest non-star instead of Wade as they are also known to do, the ref will feel obligated to make the right call.  Last season he or she would have known that they wouldn’t be scrutinized for protecting Wade because that’s how the NBA works.  However, that ability will be, or at least should be, taken away from them this season because everyone will wonder, “Is he protecting Wade or protecting a point spread?”

This scandal may leave an embarrassing smudge on David Stern’s legacy but hopefully it will lead to better product on the court, at least as far as us true basketball fans are concerned.

25
Jul
07

Would Donaghy trade Kobe if he ran the Lakers?

If you follow the basketball/sports media closely like we do you have to be tired of all the Donaghy coverage by now too.  90% of what’s out there is talk about how much trouble the NBA is in, how many fans they’re going to lose and what could happen if this or that group is implicated along with Donaghy. 

Enough already.  Things may get worse for the NBA.  They’ll eventually get better.  Regardless, unless you’re David Stern or somebody who works for him things aren’t any worse for you than they were before.  If your team was screwed by Donaghy they didn’t get screwed any worse when news came out about his so far still alleged illegal actions.  Your team still lost and it’s not going to change. 

What’s worse is that the media forgot anything else happens in the NBA besides gambling scandals.  Should the basketball media be covering the Donaghy story?  Absolutely.  But shouldn’t they continue to cover other basketball news?  I know it’s the offseason so there’s not much going on but still, throw us a bone.  What happened to the Kobe and KG speculation?  We’d even settle for a fantasy basketball outlook at this point and we’re not fantasy players.  Give us something other than Donaghy to think about for 5 minutes!

In this desperate time Marc Stein at least took a less somber/comical approach to the issue and gave us a much needed change of pace

How do you say Donaghy?
Admit it: If you were watching David Stern's news conference Tuesday, you
thought that he was mispronouncing Tim Donaghy's last name on purpose. 

You figured that was Stern's shrewd way to spite the allegedly crooked
referee he can now only pray was operating as a "rogue, isolated
criminal."

I can certainly admit it.

The true story, sadly, isn't that sinister. Turns out that the way Stern
kept saying it -- DAHN-AH-GEE, with a hard G -- is the correct
pronunciation of Donaghy's last name.

All of us who have been using DAHN-AH-HE for days have had it wrong.

 Let’s get back to talking about basketball and basketball teams instead of gambling.  This is David Stern’s problem, not ours.  If you only watch the NBA because you believe Stern when he says his league has the best refs in the world of sports then you’re not a basketball fan.  If Stern wants to trade jobs (and more importantly salaries) we’ll take on the scandal.  Otherwise can somebody tell us where Paxson is at in extension talks with Deng and Gordon?  Is Joakim Noah’s shoulder healed yet?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller . . . Bueller . . .




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