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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. Lou - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    People are already saying this is like watching WWE Monday Night Raw. After tonight, we can all tune into Wrestling! Be interesting to see who they want to win it.

  2. jonnymac - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    yeah the ‘reffing’ has been atrocious at times……but you still can’t undo a slam-dunk, great jump-shot, or a 3 pointer…..even with bad reffing trying to extend the series to 6 or 7 games (which is obviously the objective)….the players have to step it up and let their talent shine through to determine the real winner, just like Kobe did against the Suns in that last game.

  3. Lion Woods - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    The whistleblowers for the NBA are only following their marching orders. David Stern and the NBA provide an entertainment product. The NBA is in the entertainment business. Thus, the bottom line is they will instruct the referees to influence the games one way or another. Apparently Mr. Stern did not want to see the Lakers go up 2-0 and wanted to balance out the series. From what I have observed thus far the NBA can rest assured that this finals will be a profitable one. That’s Entertainment folks!

  4. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    This is not such a brilliant post. What happened in game 2 of 2008, the Celtics had 38 free throws the lakers had 10.
    Also, in game 2, Bryant was in foul trouble while Allen was flying around setting illegal picks on Fisher. Oh yeah, you also forgot the call with 2 mins left in the game where the ball went off GARNETTs hand, yet they reviewed it and never changed the call. Rondo hit a shot and gave boston a 5 pt lead. That call was HUGE at the time, but of course, you forgot about that.
    Oh yeah, he really wanted the glamour boys to win the 2008 finals, with a 38-10 Boston FT advantage in game two. Did Stern just wake up one day and say “darn i forgot to let the Lakers beat Boston in 2008”
    Wake up, will ya pal? If you’re not inside, you’re outside, OK? And I’m not talking a $400,000 a year working Wall Street stiff flying first class and being comfortable, I’m talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars buddy. A player, or nothing. Now you had what it took to get into my office; The real question is whether you got what it takes to stay.

  5. CP - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    The Calls are so inconsistent, for both team. But the fouls called on Bryan ( offensive foul and foul on Rondo), in the replay, you could do nothing but wander… what the heck is going on????
    especially the foul on Rondo’s call.

  6. jack - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    BostonRob,you are the dumbass, learn how to spell!!!

  7. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    LW, you are almost ‘dead on’. Let me explain to you what happens. Stern doesn’t instruct the refs to do anything. This is what happens instead. Stern hires smart humans who are loyal to him. These refs already know what its going to take to make the NBAe the most money. Its like this. Lets say i asked you to quit your current job and come work for me and that together, me and you were going to create this great company that’s going to make a ton of money. Ok, you following me so far? So, on day, i’m out taking my kids to the park and you’re in the office running the business. I’m not available as my cellphone fell in the river. A call comes in from a big clien and you are the only one in charge. Guess what you are going to do? Yep, you guessed it, you are going to do what is in the best FINANCIAL interest of the company,even if i’m not there verbally instructing you. Same thing with the refs. These guys know what it takes to generate revenue. Listen to Tim Donaghy speak, he’s a really smart guy, he’s no bozo, he knew exactl what the league wanted and needed when he was out there making calls.
    Overall i totally agree with your post other than the actual ‘instructing’ of the refs. Nothing is verbally discussd between Stern and his refs, they just ‘know what to do’ when the time is right.

  8. chiliD - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    If the TV revenue is the main objective…why do the Clippers & Knicks suck so bad??

  9. talis4 - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    It’s all about style of play Georgio. If you played the game you would understand. The Celtics in 2008 played inside/out. They dominated in the paint. When you take the ball to the hoop, or post up, you get more calls. In game two of this series the Celtics outscored the pansies in the paint. Yet, gashole and company dominated the referees. In the fourth quarter the pansies had shot 38 foul shots to the Celtics 14. The refs closed it up a little (48 – 26) largely due to the deliberate fouls when the laffers were trying to close the gap.
    You reference the 38 – 10 gap in 2008. The Celts dominated in that game. They went strong to the hoop and posted low. phil jackson took care of it though. He got his panties in a bunch and complained bitterly about the refs. The situation was changed in the next game. Face it. The Celtics are a better TEAM. The lakers are kobe and gashole with a good contribution from bynam. The Celtics are ten deep. You can’t focus on one, two or three players.
    When played at its best, basketball is the consummate team sport. With the Celtic D and talent they should dominate this series. Believe me, the stern and the refs won’t allow it.

  10. aaww - Jun 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    How about invite 15 refs to the game and draw 3 names 5 minutes before tip off ? They are all NBA refs, they should all be able to do the job on short notice..

  11. Lakers4Lyfe - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    Prediction: Kennedy throws Perkins out just after half-time on his 7th technical in the playoffs, costing him a game 4. Celtics fans then go berkerk, start tossing beer on the floor, find his car, torch it and turn it over after they lose game 3. Boston cops will watch it all and do nothing:)

  12. mvmnam - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    That is dead on accurate.
    I would only add that there is no more clueless sports fans on the face of the planet than LA fans. The Oliver Stone reference pretty much confirms it.

  13. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    Its actually the right call. The hand is considered part of the ball and the person responsible for causing it to go out of bounds gets called for the last touch. You can doubt that Garnett would have caught it with one hand, but the call was correct.

  14. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Isiah Thomas, Dolan, and Marbury. You don’t need to know anything else about the Knicks except those 3 names and why they suck.

  15. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Lets face it tails, these are both great teams, the lakers won the title last year and the Celtics didnt even get there…despite having the same ‘great team’ they have this year. Where was Boston last year if theyre such a great team? They had the had the same players pretty much.
    The celtics did not dominate game 2 of 2008, check out the final score. The Celtics won by SIX points despite having 28 more free throws. That doesnt seem like domination to me.

  16. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Huh? Tim Donaghy was on youtube commenting on the officiating for game 2 and he was asked about this play and he said he saw it and couldnt understand why it wasnt overturned. He mentioned nothing about responsibility. Tim knows more about the NBA rules than you do. Watch this video, it was shot after game 2, Tim Donaghy is one here and he talks about the missed Garnett ball out of bounds call and mentions nothing about your theory.

  17. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    Injuries. And the team is not the same. Powe and Posey were gone.
    And Posey absolutely shut down Kobe in 2008. They lost a huge defensive stopper and Garnett was out.

  18. LeagueFan - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    If there is such a conspiracy of referees in place – why did 3 of the 4 conference semi finals series end in a sweep? After all, wouldn’t there be more money to be made stretching out Hawks v Magic, Lakers v Jazz, and Suns v Spurs??
    Why has only 1 in 14 series’ played gone to 7 games conspiracy theorists?

  19. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    And yes the Lakers were dominated. When you lose a 24 point lead at home in the Finals, you got dominated and humiliated at home. Regardless if you lost the game by 1 point.
    You got embarrassed and exposed at home. 24 points.

  20. rush2112 - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    Can someone show me a internal memo or a recorded conversation that stern decides who will win? If not stop your crying. There are fouls on practically every posession in basketball. If anything they refrain from blowing there whistles or there would not be enough left to field the team. Also the ramifications of federal charges and jail time, and law suits since this is a heavily wagered sport everywhere. All you conspiracy people should stick to roswell and area 51. Until you have proof not just because my team had more fouls called on key people get over it, and get a life. Why would he have let 3 of the semi finals end in sweeps instead of 7 games for money. I also dont see the Cavs wasnt that supposed to be the big thing in the finals him and Kolbe. Well so much for the conspiracy theory.

  21. KDawg - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    And yes the Lakers were dominated. When you lose a 24 point lead at home in the Finals, you got dominated and humiliated at home. Regardless if you lost the game by 1 point.
    Despite how the rest of the games turned out.
    You got embarrassed and exposed at home. 24 points.

  22. tony - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Spooken like a true blind as a bat Celtic fan….

  23. Mark - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    I never meant that any particular team is entitled to win. However, I do believe that good organizations that make good decisions should at least have a shot to win. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough Kobes and LeBrons to go around. Having too many teams as a result of over-expansion means that the true game-changing players are even more effective. An NBA team is unique to major sports because there are only 12 or so roster spots so one or two players make much more of a difference than in other sports. Can you name the last NBA team to win a title without a true superstar? I’m not saying that it’s impossible but history has shown that a Magic, Bird, Jordan, Duncan, Kobe, Garnett, etc. is a near necessity. Again, there just aren’t enough of those types of players to spread throughout all of the NBA teams.

  24. Georgio - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Because you dont understand how it works. You’re thinking the games are actually FIXED. The games arent fixed BUT, they are ‘tinkered with’. No amount of fixing was going to get the hawks to compete with the Magic. The league ‘steps in’ when they see there are two evenly matched teams and they can make the series go a few more games with a small amount of tinkering. They’re not going to do a LARGE amount of tinkering because it would be too obvious that is fixed.

  25. bob - Jun 8, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    are you blind or just an idiot…. 2 phantom foul calls against Kobe to sit him down for 14 minutes.

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