NBA players have cause to be upset with the officiating in the playoffs. Just last week a ball clearly bounced off of a rim and the Miami Heat still were called for a crucial shot clock violation. I am never inclined to defend Scott Foster, but maybe his brain was fried from a flop fest that night between Kyle Lowry and Jalen Brunson. Professional athletes falling over themselves happened again during Game 4 of Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics.
Does the NBA need to fix the All Star Game?
Tyrese Maxey did what I can only assume is a cardinal sin in the NBA these days — play actual defense. Jayson Tatum shoved the smaller player with his forearm. With only 38 seconds remaining in overtime Maxey scrambled back to try and contest the shot. Unfortunately for him, that blatant offensive foul gave Tatum space for a clean look. Trying to play basketball instead of acting like he got hit by a car almost cost the 76ers Game 4, although they eventually won 116-115 in overtime.
Players are being punished for playing actual basketball
For the Celtics, as aggressive as Marcus Smart is, and for all of the actual great basketball plays that he makes, the reason that he is always banged up is because he is constantly launching himself onto the hardwood. Doris Burke was an audible smh emoji while discussing a Smart flop that was called a defensive foul with less than 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Then late in overtime, Smart slid in front of Joel Embiid to take a charge. Thankfully Embiid wasn’t airborne so Smart’s move didn’t put another player’s health at risk. However, he also didn’t play the defense that is taught in community centers across this country. Smart saw that Embiid got Al Horford — who had eaten his lunch for nearly the entire fourth quarter — to bite on a pump fake. To stop the giant 2023 MVP, Smart slid right behind Horford and as Embiid tried to step to the side he leaned into him.
A charging foul was called in real time. After what felt like an entire extra quarter for the officials to review the play, the call stood. Embiid was punished for making a good basketball play.
He learned his lesson quickly, because two possessions later Embiid threw up a one-handed shot and immediately went parallel to the floor before landing, hitting hit two free throws to give the 76ers a one-point lead.
Even NBA owners are getting involved
The fugazi stretched all the way to the sidelines in Arizona. Phoenix Suns team owner — and former national champion Michigan State basketball player — Mat Ishbia inserted himself into the field of play in a way only possible if a person pays $4 billion dollars to purchase a franchise. Late in the second quarter of the Suns’ Game 4 matchup against the Denver Nuggets, the basketball fell into Ishbia’s arms as Josh Okogie fell out of bounds.
While still holding the ball, Ishbia appeared to be helping Okogie back to his feet. Maybe Ishbia’s concern was the wellbeing of a player on the team that he owns. Or maybe he felt that only one hand was necessary to help Okogie off the floor so he could hold onto the ball until the Suns had five players on their feet?
Nikola Jokić took exception to what was happening and tried to snatch the ball from Ishbia, who did not give it up willingly. The ball ended up another row back and while Jokić was reaching up to catch a toss from a spectator, he did make contact with Ishbia, who was certainly too close to an NBA player for an average paying customer. I don’t believe that Jokić intentionally went after Ishbia in any way, but the Suns’ owner went full slip-and-fall-in-the-store while in the one place in the arena that he should always avoid.
When will this madness end? NBA players, you are doing what a stranger might do after making unwanted contact with one of you all. A reasonable course of action would be to shove back, but the original offender will make every effort to flop post retaliation.
Nearly every night from October to June NBA players initiate contact and make it look like they were hit the way that Tommy Hearns clocked Martin Payne. Then the officials — mere human beings — after looking at a play real time must determine whether the play is a foul, a no call, or worthy of that flopping technical foul that is hardly ever issued.
Maybe every player in the NBA doesn’t flop like Smart, Lowry, or even Ishbia. Still, in a sport that is played at a mind-blowing pace, every call that is induced can come back to haunt a team later.
Of course NBA officiating should be better. However, basketball is a team game. If the players and coaches are really unhappy, they all need to work together with the officials to improve as a unit.
Original source here