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NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game 3: Officiating is already the story, and tip off is eight hours away

Jun 8, 2010, 12:45 PM EDT

Nicholson_officials.jpgMy plea has fallen on deaf ears.

After seeing 134 free throws through the first two games, after seeing the officiating and fouls called play a key role in both games, the announcement of the referees for Game 3 has led basketball fans everywhere to say, “Are you kidding me?” In Boston and Los Angeles, you can insert a few expletives into that sentence.

Your officials for Game 3: Bill Kennedy, Bennett Savatore and Danny Crawford.

Celtics fans are convinced Bill Kennedy has it in for them. The most public and recent incident is when Kennedy tossed Rasheed Wallace from a game against the Sixers in December (a game the Celtics lost). Last year he tossed Doc Rivers from a game then got in a staring match with him.

Bennett Salvatore? Phil Jackson got fined back in April when after a game he said you never know what you are going to get with Salvatore. Lakers fans are convinced that Salvatore has it in for their team — but that is a huge bandwagon. Everybody thinks Salvatore has it in for their team. Boston fans included.

So after two games of calling the game tight and not letting it look like an NBA finals, the NBA is sending out two of the most controversial referees in the league? Things will get interesting.

This is all a bit like the Tim Donaghy situation. Actually look at the data and it’s clear Donaghy is full of crap. He doesn’t stand up to any test. But it’s about perception. People have long been suspect of NBA referees, and now a former NBA referee is saying they were right so they believe him. It’s that simple.

When you break down the numbers, Kennedy doesn’t call any more technicals against the Celtics than other officials do. But that doesn’t matter, it’s about perception. Celtics fans are convinced he does and will react that way.

After two tightly called games, two controversial officials are going to be watched like hawks and blamed for things beyond their control. But they also could well influence the game, as their peers did in the first two games. The good news, Crawford is one of the best out there. So it will not be three blind mice tonight

  1. Omnius - Jun 8, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    David Stern has already picked the winner of this years Finals and he’s making sure the refs work the games just like he wants them to be worked to make the team Stern wants to win win. The first two games were riddled with way too many phantom foul calls against both teams but mainly against the Lakers and especially Kobe Bryant. Time for a new NBA commisioner, one who is honest and doesn’t dictate who wins the Finals each year. Still two blind mice is nearly as bad as three, don’t expect the refs to let the players play.

  2. Omnius - Jun 8, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    David Stern has already picked the winner of this years Finals and he’s making sure the refs work the games just like he wants them to be worked to make the team Stern wants to win win. The first two games were riddled with way too many phantom foul calls against both teams but mainly against the Lakers and especially Kobe Bryant. Time for a new NBA commisioner, one who is honest and doesn’t dictate who wins the Finals each year. Still two blind mice is nearly as bad as three, don’t expect the refs to let the players play.

  3. chris24 - Jun 8, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    there is truly no doubt mr. stern controls
    his officiating.
    do we not think the nba wants this to go 7 games?
    is there not more revenue generated by two or three
    more prime time tv spots?
    come on, are we that stupid, David?
    Toss the commish. He sucks.

  4. Lion Woods - Jun 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    It is good to know that the entertainment business is alive and well. Apparently the referees have their marching orders from their bosses. The calls were so one sided and slanted toward Boston for no other reason than to even up the series. After what I witnessed on Sunday, the series will go seven games and the NBA and networks can rest assured that they will be able to sell ad space for Game 7 at a premium. Shame on the NBA but that’s entertainment.

  5. Jeff - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Holy Cow! Lakers FANS whine more than Lakers themselves!! Look at the stat lines Jack A$$es… LA shot 41 FT’s to Boston’s 26, the fouls called were exactly the same, 29-29. How can you possibly say the calls were slanted towards Boston? Considering the 15 more FT’s, Pierce and Garnett no shows, Lakers should be up 2-0. Just because Kobe has 5 fouls on him does not mean the calls are slanted against him.

  6. Wynky - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Are you two serious right now? If I was to ask you about any sport out there you would say it was rigged in some sort of way in order for that league or association to do nothing more than accumulate more revenue!
    I fully agree that bad calls have been made in both games, but do you really expect something different?
    A Tigers pitcher is robbed of a perfect game, first in franchise history, because an umpire made a bad judgement call. Was that rigged? No, but because there was no money was riding on it no one 3 days later even remembers it happened.
    How many super bowls have been blown due to bad calls in the last two minutes of the game? Hell, just the last one did.
    The fact is that referees and umpires are not and never will be perfect. Some will always have a favorite in mind and others will call the game fairly. Whether it be 1, 2, or 3 blind mice running the show, bad calls will be made and you two will be right here to blame the “commish” on wanting to do nothing more than expand his business and make more profit.
    GOD LOVE AMERICA!!!

  7. david saint - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    i dont know what lakers fans are complaining about..had it not been for the refs slowing down the games against the Suns with garbage calls (against both teams that is..still, it slowed down the pace which favored the Suns..and in game 5 they called garbage calls on the Suns in the 2nd qtr while LA got to play all kinds of physical ball without being called like the Suns were) the lakers wouldnt even be in the finals..so, quit your whining and if your team makes it shots then they will win regardless.
    by the way, Donaghy wasnt full of it. For instance, his claim that certain refs would start calling garbage fouls on the Suns when they broke open games actually was dead on point. Check the tape of the 05-07 seasons and you will see for yourself Kurt.
    NBA, where rigging, i mean communism, i mean excitement happens. ( call it communist because no one is allowed to publicly say the officials suck without being fined…even if whomever said it was on point..)

  8. Bear Woods - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    The inconsistency of officiating in the NBA is by far this league’s weakest link, and threatens the integrity of the sport at it’s very core. Watching so many questionable calls made by refs like Kennedy & Savatore throughout the season & the playoffs have to make one wonder why Stern would ever assign them to officiate an NBA Finals game.
    It’s hard enough watching them let superstar players get away with palming and traveling with all the steps they take in the paint on their way to a spectacular dunk. It was dissappointing to watch the slow motion replays of a critical out-of-bounds possession changing play in Game 2, then see the officials refuse the aid of the cameras and get the call wrong. It’s inexcusable when the egos or emotions of the officials change the outcome of a game, and I truly don’t want that to happen tonight.
    Perhaps Mr. Stern should consider what happened with boxing when their officiating lost its credibility too. Let’s hope that Kennedy, Savatore, and Crawford prove us all to be wrong and call a fair game in Boston tonight.
    Go Lakers!!

  9. Reality Check - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    Anyone who thinks the Lakers are getting the short end of the officiating in this series is obviously not paying attention. Entering the 4th quarter on Sunday, the Lakers held a 35-16 free throw advantage over the Celtics, which closed due to the numerous fouls near the end of game 2. Jackson has been a lifetime whiner when it comes to officiating; perhaps he should spend more time trying to figure out which Boston guard is going to light the Lakers up. Kobe is just as capable of having five fouls called on him as are Ray Allen (game 1), Paul Pierce (game 1) and Kevin Garnett (game 2). Funny, didn’t hear much about the foul situation from Lakers staff or fans after game one.

  10. MavMan - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    There was a report in Dallas that Crawford was running around bragging about how the Mavericks were 1-16 in games he had officiated. I am convinced that the officiating is dishonest, and with with the commissioner’s blessing. He can’t fine me!!

  11. Lakers4Lyfe - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    haha, I can’t wait for the Gardens reverberating with fans screaming and chanting “Bulls*t” tonight. This is gonna be good.

  12. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    What the NBA needs to do is stop calling “bailout” calls. If the defender is in the air and the player with the ball jumps into him, that should be an offensive foul, period.
    You got him in the air, its called “faking him out”. Take a dribble and then take your shot. This jumping into the defender has to stop.
    Call palming.
    The NBA has become a sport where you watch less basketball and more foul shots. Its terrible and unexciting.
    If the current Lakers played the 94 Knicks (Oakley, Mason, Ewing and co.) I have a funny feeling they would give a press conference crying. At least back then when a foul was called, it was a foul.
    The NBA is quickly approaching soccer with its phantom calls and players screaming, flailing, falling as if shot instead of grazed.
    Bring back the players that played to make the shot, not “get the call”.

  13. Mark - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    David Stern is an idiot. He has been heralded as a great commissioner for building an entertainment power but no one talks about the fact that over-expansion has diluted the talent pool and made the NBA into something that is now not-so-special. This too happened on his watch. Think about it – How many teams in a given year really have a chance to win a title? Without a superstar, your team might win a playoff series but that’s about it. Why pay a ton of money for tickets knowing that your team has no chance? And there’s any surprise that so many teams are bleeding money? The seven teams added to the league over the past 20 years have added roster spots without enough talent to support them. Stern severely overestimated the level and amount of international talent. I think that he got caught up in the Toni Kukoc mania at the time. Oops. The poor officiating is also Stern’s fault. He allowed the game to get incredibly physical when Shaq entered the league because Shaq’s only way to score was to push people around – he still can’t shoot outside of three feet. The physical game remains and it’s too difficult for anyone to officiate. Couple that with truly incompetent referees and it’s recipe for disaster. Also holding back any improvements is that any broadcaster, announcer or analyst – local or national – is prohibited from criticizing the officiating (teams will get fined if their play-by-play guys say too much). Ever wonder why announcers and studio analysts rarely comment despite the incompetence? You see NFL Network employees being open with their opinions but never on NBA’s channel. To make my point, who do the TNT studio analysts (Ernie, Kenny, Charles, C-Webb, etc.) actually work for, TNT or the NBA? It’s a legitimate question considering that they regularly appear together on both networks in the studio. Is David Stern crooked or stupid? Either way many things have to change.

  14. Larry - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Each one of the first 3 games will have a convicted felon who officiated in it. Game one, Joey Crawford, Game two, Ken Mauer, and Game 3 Bennett Salvatore, all were convicted of or plead out to tax evasion in 2000. Stern rehired them all back. What kind of integrity is that when Stern ran around in 2008 screaming about convicted felon Donaghy looking for the best deal by making up false information.
    By the way I expect the game four lead ref to be Scott Foster. The owner of 120 short duration calls to Donaghy’s gambling phone, one of four cell phones Donaghy had before and after games at the time Donaghy was betting on games. Despite the claim that Foster was not involved, it seem rather a joke to believe that.
    The league has no integrity with Stern as Commissioner, plain and simple.

  15. BostonRob - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    Lakers4Lyfe, you dumnass, it’s goiina be “beat LA”!

  16. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    the name of their company is NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASS’n ENTERTAINMENT company. Their goal to enterain you while at the same time, making as much money for themselves as humanely possible. Sit back, enjoy, be entertained. Why would any of you think that an entertainment company would leave the company in the hands of their entertainers? Do you really think that Stern and his band of merry men just toss large, mostly dumb jocks onto a basketball court and just let the results ‘fall where they may’? Do you think that the NBA entertainment corporation got to be as successful as it is by just leaving the results up to mere chance? Do you think ANY successful BILLION dollar corporation gets to be a BILLION dollar corporation because their CEO just puts his feet up on his desk and says, “lets let the players decide the games, lets let the chips fall where they may”. Do you?

  17. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    Watching free throws is not worth the price of admission. If you like watching someone take shots from the charity stripe just go to the local park.

  18. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Replying to Mark Post 13.
    Mark, you make some very good points. My question to you is this. Why do you think any particular fan of any particular team is ‘entitled’ to win? This is an entertainment company. You purchase a ticket to that particular nights game, you go to be entertained and you leave. Same thing with the circus. You go to the circus to see the show for a couple hours, the circus doesnt promise you any ‘extras’. Why are sports fans always thinking they deserve to WIN.? If you back a winning team, its a bonus. If you back a losing team, well, you’re just paying the price of admission to be entertained for one night, you’re not necessarily entitled (with that nights admission price) to win. Winning is extra i believe and no fan is really entitled to this as part of his ticket price.
    Your points about refs and the commenators working for the NBA are legit. Why do you think sports leagues have their own employees officiating the games? Congress should step in and mandate that these monopolies have ‘outside’ companies bring in their own refs. This way we will know that the refs could care less who wins and call the games honestly. With refs on the payroll, their goal is to make their company money….even if it means giving a few borerline calls to one team to help the series be extended to 6 or 7 games when honest calling might see the series be a 4 game sweep. Too much revenue on the table to let series be over in 4.

  19. pivster - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    NBA = WWE
    It’s all entertainment nowadays; not a sport as most of you believe. Stern will one day admit to this being “sports-entertainment” as some suspect, but until that day, believe what you want.

  20. pivster - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    NBA = WWE
    It’s all entertainment nowadays; not a sport as most of you believe. Stern will one day admit to this being “sports-entertainment” as some suspect, but until that day, believe what you want.

  21. mcfar73 - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    So who did he pick? :)

  22. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Doesn’t matter. He needed Celtics vs Lakers in the Finals to get the two biggest markets for TV revenue.
    As long as it goes 7 games, Stern is in “money shot” heaven.

  23. talis4 - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Omnius is delusional. First off, david stern has had it in for the Celtics since Red was there. He jammed us on Bias and Lewis.
    You are either blind, or ignorant, if you came away from the first two games thinking that the refs favored the Celtics. It was a joke. Davis cleanly rejects bynam, foul. Pierce cleanly rejects artest, foul. Game one they took out Ray Allen. Game two they took out Garnett. The Celtics overcame a 41 – 26 free throw deficit to beat the lakers. gashole (the flopmeister) is protected througout. bryant plays as if he has a restraining order on the opposition. If you enter within 3 feet of him a foul is called. joe crawford was part of the horrific crew (with rush) that oversaw the Celtics’ 29 point defeat to Cleveland in game three. stern wants the glamour boys from los angeles to win this thing. If game two were called fairly, the Celtics would have won by forty. Rent a clue.

  24. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    This is a brilliant post.
    Stern is in charge of creating the most entertaining product he can possibly put out on the floor. Rich companies like this have tons of people working on statistics to tell them what they need to do to make their company the most entertaining company they can be. I can’t imagine for the life of me that their higher ups are telling Stern “our research shows that the best course of action, to make our company the most money, is to just officiate the games honestly and let the chips fall where they may”. No, this is not happening Virginia.

  25. H25 - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Donaghy is full of crap? What is this writer a schill for the NBA? Afraid he won’t get a job? Donaghy was right on. Selected playoff games were as up and up as jai alai

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