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NBA finals, Lakers Celtics: For the sake of watchable basketball, referees stop blowing the whistle

Jun 7, 2010, 2:08 PM EDT

Kobe_complains.jpgOne hundred and thirty four.

That is how many free throws we’ve gotten to witness through the first two games of the NBA finals. That is 67 free throws a game. The league average was about 48 a game during the regular season.

That is a 71 percent increase in foul calls for the NBA finals.

I’m not jumping on the conspiracy theory bandwagon here — the referees have been whistle happy and inconsistent with calls, but they have been equal opportunity bad. Ray Allen got to sit in Game 1, Kobe was in trouble and tentative late in Game 2 because of fouls. Big Baby had had clean blocks called fouls, Lamar Odom apparently gets a call for just stepping on to the court. There have been bad calls, but they have gone both ways.

And the team that has adjusted better to the calls have won both games.

But there just needs to be less of them.

I’m not asking for a return to the 1990s. For any reason. Nobody wants to watch that again. Not even Jeff Van Gundy and he coached one of those teams. We don’t like the whistle being blown every trip down the court.

The tight whistles are hampering the aggressiveness of the teams. They are keeping the best players on the bench for too long. They are taking any flow out of the games. While Game 2 was exciting, neither game has been aesthetically pleasing (outside of Ray Allen’s pure jumper).

It’s the finals — let the big boys play a little. If Andrew Bynum and Kendrick Perkins want to bang on the block, let them. If the Lakers get a little physical with Ray Allen as he comes off screens, so be it. If Kobe has to fight through some contact to get through a double team, that’s the way it should be. There can be a little bumping, some pushing, a little physicality.  

I get not wanting the game to get out of control, but so far it has been the referees that have been the ones out of control. In trying to exert their control.

It’s the finals — let them play a little. It’s what we all want to see.

  1. stewart scholl - Jun 7, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    the game needs to be changed and integrated with lesser talent
    but a wider span of ethnic groups. Granted the players are all good and well talented but there is clearly, like Hockey, a one sided picture as to one ethnic group playing out their. Any given teem should have no more the 1/3 numbers in one ethnic group.
    others spanish,chinesse,european,and other minority groups should have equal access in this game. Trying to get this integration into motion is difficult because it should be implemented in Hockey,
    and nascar racing, all pro sports should have equal access by all groups of ethnic representation.
    also the rules should be changed, half court shots are worth 5 points, full court shots are worth 10 points, after a number of 3 point shots in a row, like 3, everyone after three in row is worth 4 points till the in a row is broken. lastly a stuck ball on the hoop is worth 5 points.

  2. Jonathan - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Fairness in ethnicity?? Seriously? No matter the race if you’re the best you should play. No one cares if there is 10 Arabs in the league or 15 Africans. Seeing as there are less than 5 Canadians (my home country) I could agree with you but I don’t. That’s because I want to watch the BEST in the world play, don’t care what nation they represent.
    The changing of the points isn’t even worth mentioning. All I will say is go back to playing NBA Jam if you want to watch an arcade game. Boomshakalaka!!

  3. jeb - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    what the hell are you talking about stewart? that is one of the dumbest things i have ever read, not to mention the fact that it has nothing to do with the article. the game is fantastic the way it is and all of you proposed changes would just turn it into garbage. are you serious!! NBA jam is right…no one would watch that trash.
    on the finals…the referees have been atrocious. it has, for the most part been evenly bad for both teams, but i think the tightly called games benefits the lakers because an aggressive, physical style of play is what got the C’s back to the finals. i think that refs were expecting this series to be out of control (especially after pierce/artest got tangled up 27 seconds into game one) and have there for been far to tight with the calls in overcompensation.

  4. JSKCKNIT - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    How do you equate 134 freethrows to a 71% increase in fouls? Not every freethrow is awarded because of a foul and not every foul is awarded freethrows. You also cant compare averages of two games by two teams to that of 82 games played by 30 teams.
    I hate to say it, but your math is wrong. Yes there’s an increase in fouls called…but the game is played at greater intensity in the Finals compared to regular season.

  5. seattle tyler - Jun 7, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    it’s a 40% increase, not 71%. only 71% of the fouls called this series were called in the regular season.
    anyway, i like the comment about ethnicity and 5 pt shots. i don’t agree, but its funny and stuff like that belongs in blogs. this isn’t sports illustrated for heaven’s sake. the one rule i’d like to see changed though is the stupid continuation garbage. FOUL… DRIBBLE… PULL UP… SHOOT… AND 1!
    if the foul doesn’t affect the play, let the players play.

  6. Gary Pearson - Jun 7, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    Regardless of the math, there are too many incidental or acting fouls being called. These are the big boys who are fighting for a championship and basketball is a contact sport. Anyone who doesn’t think so has never played the game. Let them play. Games and championships should be decided by the players/teams not the ref’s.

  7. rocco dantona - Jun 7, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    these are among some of the lamest comments i have ever seen. usually comments are the best part. A fine article, Kurt. Let them play. As a Laker fan, one of the strangest things i’ve ever seen was Kobe’s fifth foul. Kobe is notorious for arguing with the refs, and on his fifth foul, he stood up straight while Rondo fell out of bounds, and was called for pushing. He didn’t argue the call, not because he didn’t foul him, he quite clearly didn’t. He didn’t argue because he was horrified. In that moment he realized he would not be able to play aggressively, and that they could lose.
    So now we’ve got a five game series. Let the players decide it, not the refs. It’s hard to beat a team whose off guard shows up for thirty on a dozen shots. But would Bynum and Gasol have been as brilliant with Garnett out there? I don’t want to speculate, I want to know. Let them play.

  8. Sarah - Jun 7, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    That has got to be the stupidest thing I have ever read and racist to boot! Let’s choose talent based on color, not qualification!!! Please just go away!

  9. C'mon Son - Jun 7, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    Are you retarded? Or are you just retarded? It has to be one or the other…

  10. Laker Fan - Jun 7, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    wow you’re an idiot. in pro sports, the best players play. end of story. to re-iterate, you are a dumbass.

  11. Felipe - Jun 7, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    I agree! The refereeing in these finals is simply ridiculous! They make it hard for us to see the game! Simply horrible!

  12. david - Jun 8, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    The officials need to stop and let the players play. Two fouls on Kobe were ridiculous. The flop by Ray Allen and the force out on Rondo. The replay clearly showed Kobe never touched Rondo. The NBA should install a flop rule, if you flop you get a technical foul. How can they not figure out the replay on the out of bounds, clearly Gasol’s hand was behind Garnett’s. That was a huge change in the game as Boston ended up scoring on the play.

  13. Anthony - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    The big question is why wasn’t there a whistle blown when Doc Rivers ran on the court? Refs are very inconsistent and trying to decide the game instead of letting people get their money and enjoyment worth watching the players play.

  14. Rich - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:49 AM

    How about consistancy? Is this pro wrestling or pro basketball? Vince macmahon would be proud.

  15. Bruce - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:03 AM

    Good point about the averages. However the fact that it’s THE FINALS makes such large increase ridiculous no matter who the teams are. And you are right about all fouls not awarding a team a free throw, however every foul contributes to more free throws because of the 5foul penalty.
    And may just ask… how can you have played basketball as a guard your whole life, through middle school, high school, and college… not to mention 3 years in the NBA, and not be able to hit the broad side of a barn??? -DAMN Rondo!!

  16. Bruce - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    Good point about the averages. However the fact that it’s THE FINALS makes such large increase ridiculous no matter who the teams are. And you are right about all fouls not awarding a team a free throw, however every foul contributes to more free throws because of the 5foul penalty.
    And may just ask… how can you have played basketball as a guard your whole life, through middle school, high school, and college… not to mention 3 years in the NBA, and not be able to hit the broad side of a barn??? -DAMN Rondo!!

  17. Will - Jun 9, 2010 at 6:46 AM

    I hear everybody talking about the fouls Kobe got well those were make up calls from Game 1 when they called Phantom fouls on Ray Allen. If you notice the refs are about make ups and nick nack fouls that wouldn’t normally be called I believed the league isn’t about the player its about THE MONEY!!! David Stern is behind it all when the league lost billions last year because playoff games were ending early and when the dream matchup never happened (Kobe vs Lebron) they switched the game up. In the Orlando series Perkins got ejected for no reason because they wanted to stretched the games to at least 6 in both series (LA vs Phoenix) now in the finals the control of the refs were implamented so that this series goes 7. If you bet your money on any team you made a big mistake because the outcome could be Boston if you bet on LA or LA if you bet on Boston. I can almost predict that Boston will win Game 4, LA wins 5, Boston wins 6 and 7?

  18. d - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Referees played good for LA. In hockey they call this too manny men on the ice…

  19. bo - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    So the best play with no regard to race, sex or nation of origin that would be against the law in the real world.

  20. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    ????Stewart you are clearly NOT a basketball fan. Even more….you are an idiot. Millions of dollars for play and endorsements drives the TOP talent, both domestic and international, and you want to make it ethnically equal and ruin it. Hell to the nahw!!! The NBA is the one fair, based soley on talent league on earth!!!! Do not screw with it! Anyone talented enough can play in the NBA not to mention you have all the rest of the professional basketball leagues around the world willing to sign players INTERNATIONALLY based on talent and desire. You are a FOOL!!!

  21. Anonymous - Jun 11, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    ????Stewart you are clearly NOT a basketball fan. Even more….you are an idiot. Millions of dollars for play and endorsements drives the TOP talent, both domestic and international, and you want to make it ethnically equal and ruin it. Hell to the nahw!!! The NBA is the one fair, based soley on talent league on earth!!!! Do not screw with it! Anyone talented enough can play in the NBA not to mention you have all the rest of the professional basketball leagues around the world willing to sign players INTERNATIONALLY based on talent and desire. You are a FOOL!!!

  22. GSWarrior - Jun 14, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    “There have been bad calls, but they have gone both ways.”
    as a fan that has no real biased opinion in these finals(as usual being a Warrior fan), all i can say is I was originally going for Boston…until I watched game 2. And I feel sorry for anyone who still wants so badly to believe the NBA isnt tainted that believes these games are ‘legitimately’ called. Kobe deserved not even half of the fouls he got, turnovers were reviewed and STILL called Bostons ball when it was OBVIOUSLY out on Garnett….after replay?…..I also noticed when the Lakers were ahead in the final minutes of game 3 there was not ONE out of bounds ball not reviewed….funny how I havent seen any since?….coincidence being Boston was leading late both games since….NO reviews…….
    if you really believe the NBA…its media….and its sponsors, arent in this for a 7 game buck, then I feel sorry for you, in fact I feel sorry for ALL NBA fans that think they are watching real basketball……after the team they love finally makes it to the finals(not you LA and Boston fans you’ve been spoiled sh*tless)
    think about it, how hard is it to one side a game as a ref?…its very, very easy…..

  23. Bing Crosby - Jun 18, 2010 at 4:59 AM

    I can’t believe how hard you all just got troll’d, and by a complete newfag no less, long live common sense, 5 points stuck in the rim? I fukkn lol’d!

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