Weekly Countdown (cont.)
2. You are making way too much of this "travesty" in the Celtics-Blazers game. This is not a case where a star was called for a couple of frivolous early fouls and was on the bench for a majority of the game. Awarding two points to one team in the second quarter is never an excuse for how the remaining 24-plus minutes play out. The NBA obviously should take a look at this and fix the problem. Move on.
Look, the Celtics stopped playing midway through the play to complain that their opponent had six men on the floor. The basket was allowed to count anyway. The referees realized what happened instantly after the basket was scored, before another second of play could transpire.
Again, everyone will have his or her opinion of what is important. I can't imagine anything more unfair on a basketball court than to allow six men to score against five -- and then to reward the offending six-man team.
1. Why would you harp on this one issue of allowing the basket to count when you answered the question yourself? "[R]egardless of how the particular rule may or may not be written." That is the rule. If not discovered, all play counts until such time it is discovered for a noncorrectable error. Granted, NBA officials should be checking how many players are on the floor after a timeout. We high school officials have to do the same -- count the players. Bottom line is, it happened, the officials made the only call they could at the time and then Boston was outscored in the second half 51-41. Rules are changed each year for various reasons. I think you missed the call on this one.
Although I am sympathetic to your view on the referee decision, the bottom line is that referees are supposed to FOLLOW THE RULES. Their job is not to make the "right" call or to create a sense of justice or fair play. There is nothing in the rules that allows the removal of points scored during a previous play. Doesn't matter how many people were on the court. If the refs had removed the points, they would have been doing so on their own decision, without any rule stating that they could do so. We do not want refs believing they can go outside the rules whenever they feel the outcome wasn't "right." That is a dangerous and slippery slope. The situation was unfortunate, but it was not a poor referee decision -- in fact, the referees did exactly the correct thing. The blame lies with the rule makers who failed to foresee this type of circumstance.
I am certain the rule will be rewritten this summer. I am also certain that some referees feel that I was unfair in my criticism of this crew for following the rule to the letter of the law.
I try to hold referees to a reasonable standard, because obviously I'm not perfect myself. I make mistakes too. But the outcome of this play was entirely unreasonable, every way I viewed it. I respect the arguments against my view -- I may be in the minority on this one -- but I just can't get past the idea that in an NBA game I saw six men team together to score a basket and then no one -- neither the referees on the court nor the league office, which could have even ruled to nullify the field goal at halftime -- did anything to make it right. As much as I understand the opposing arguments, they are to me a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees.
2 Stars who shouldn't be taken for granted
2. Marcus Camby, Clippers. He was unhappy to have his salary dumped by the Nuggets last summer, and his new team is 8-30. But consider the numbers Camby is assembling at age 34: 12.1 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. I could have mentioned him among the players contending to make their first All-Star team, but like Durant he has no chance while playing for such a bad team. There may be several playoff contenders looking to acquire a 6-11 center who shoots 50.2 percent without demanding the ball.
1. Vince Carter, Nets. In the absence of Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, Carter (22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists) has been a team leader and all-around star who not only creates for others but also encourages the emergence of Devin Harris. It will be one of the nice stories in the league if Carter, who turns 32 later this month, can guide the young Nets into the playoffs.
1 Untimely goodbye
1. To Marty Burns and Albert Lin. Albert was an editor of perspective and class while overseeing coverage of the NBA at Sports Illustrated. Marty is one of the best NBA writers in the country, with a high knowledge and love for the game to match his integrity. Both are friends, both have left SI and both are missed, sadly.