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Thread: I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

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    Default I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

    NBA Refs and the playoffs

    Posted Jun 10, 2005, 5:01 PM ET

    Im going to go out on a limb and tell they NBA they are creating huge problems for themselves by not having an official with a direct line of communication to the ABC broadcasters.

    Hubie Brown and Al Michaels are fun, informative and entertaining broadcasters. Hubie knows the game. He knows it well. His insights reflect those of a coach who has turned a team around and fought the playoff wars. Al ads color and continuity and does a good job of it.

    Al doesnt pretend to know the rules. Hubie however, knows some rules , but unfortunately gets a bunch of them wrong.

    When he does, it hurts the NBA because it gives fans an incorrect understanding of what the rules actually are. Why is this a problem ? Well if a fan thinks a rule is enforced one way, when in actuality it is enforced completely the opposite, that fan is going to think the refs arent doing their jobs . He or she is going to get very mad everytime that “missed call” goes against his/her team and that can only hurt the impression the fan has of the NBA and our officials.

    Let me give you the prime example, the block charge rule and the “restricted area” around the basket. For some reason, Hubie and pretty much everyone else thinks that if a defensive player is inside the circle near the basket, that no matter what happens, if there is contact, its a block - a foul on the defender. Wrongo cupcake.

    There are multiple scenarios where the defender can be standing inside the circle. He can be right underneath the basket for that matter, and it can be a charge.

    1. The circle only applies to a 2ndary defender. If Ben Wallace runs over the guy who is actively guarding him, it doesnt matter if its at midcourt or right under the basket, its a charge. On the other hand if Ben gets by his defender, and Bowen slides over to try to take a charge, and he is in the circle, it doesnt matter if he is set and has been waiting there for 10 minutes. Its a block.

    2. UNLESS, and this is a very important exception that NO ANNOUNCER or media person, and most coaches and players dont seem to understand:

    From NBA.Com - EXCEPTION: Any player may be legally positioned within the “restricted area” if the offensive player receives the ball within the Lower Defensive Box.

    Which means if a player starts his drive near the baseline, and runs over a guy in the restricted area, whether its the primary or 2ndary defender, its a charge. The player can point to the floor all he wants, but its a charge.

    Them is the rules.

    I dont expect every announcer to have the rulebook and case studies memorized. Thats for geeks like me. I do expect the NBA to recognize the issue and offer what would be a very simple fix.

    It could be handled in 1 of 2 ways. Someone who is watching the game from the NBA office could be available by phone, or better yet, there is now a backup official at every game in the event on of the officials is injured. (We had this happen in our Suns series. Steve Javie pulled a hammie and Jess Kersey was there to jump for the 2nd half). Why not get the backup official a game feed and a telephone. Allow a single ABC producer of the game to call him with questions and allow him to explain what happened in situations or to correct the announcers if there is a problem.

    I would also offer the media access to the coaches website. This website offers examples of plays for various rules so that teams can see examples of how various rules will be called. THere isnt anything very proprietary and its very well done and easy to use.

    It can only make the broadcast better. So why not do it ?

    And while Im on the topic of officials let me add some color to an old truism about refs…They are only human.

    Yes they are. They arent perfect and some are going to be better at their jobs than others. Thats just the way it is. But what I think many inside the game and fans dont understand is that they do their jobs in much the same way we all try to do our jobs. They recognize their strengths and play to them.

    No two refs would or could ever call a game exactly the same way. As much as the league really works hard to make sure that all rules are enforced equally and evenly from game to game, its just impossible.

    Officials can only call what they see. The reality is that the game moves so fast, officials have to focus on areas where they can see, digest and react to what is happening. Some are able to see more of the court , some less. Some are able to see everything that happens on the ball, some have to focus primarily on the defender to look for contact.

    I also think, and this is my opinion, that some refs place more of an emphasis on controlling the game , while others just try to call the game as it occurs. What I mean by this is that some officials are able to add the context of the game when making calls. What i DONT mean by that is that they will call the playoffs differently than they will regular season games.

    What I do mean is that they will try to take into account what is going on and try to make sure that the game doesnt become overly physical. When Joe Johnson got hurt in that horrific fall , Dick Bavetta called a flagrant foul on Jerry Stackhouse. It wasnt a flagrant foul. Im sure Dick new it wasnt. The extra possession given to the Suns could have cost the Mavs the game. But, Dick understood as well as anyone that if the Suns felt like it was a dirty play, the physical contact in the game could have escalated and maybe got out of control. He used context to make the call and did the right thing.

    Across a playoff series, when you have officials geared towards calling strictly by the book. you might get a game with 40 free throws per team. When you have those geared towards flow, you might get 15 free throws per team.

    Although I prefer the by the rule book approach, neither is right or wrong. Each official has their approach to doing their job, just as all of us do. Once an official gets to the level of doing the NBA Finals, its been reinforced to them over the many years they have officiated, that its the correct way for them to work. Thats why they are in the Finals.

    The point of this is twofold

    First, the league needs to do a better job communicating to fans and media about the nature of the job and things as simple as offering explanations in realtime during the playoffs and especially during the Finals. I think it will make watching the games all the more enjoyable.

    2nd, because of the nature of the game, officiating a playoff series “The right way” may look different game to game. That some officials abilities may match up better with one team’s style of play than another.

    Thats not a problem, its just a reality. The more fans and media understand that, the more we can appreciate what we are watching in this great Finals matchup between the Spurs and the Pistons

    And to answer the question I keep on getting….

    Im rooting for…...the series to go 7 games. For obvious reasons !

  2. #2
    Harmonica
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    Default Re: I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

    Wrongo cupcake?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

    I knew the rule about the restricted area and starting the drive on the baseline. And it happened in game 1. Both Hubie and Al said it should have been a defensive foul because the guy was clearly in the restricted area.

    That is a great, great article by Cuban, and his part about a ref should not always call a game by the book is 100% correct. And that is what separates the best refs from the average ones.

    One comment on Al Michaels. He is an excellent baseball announcer, and a very good football announcer. But I get the impression that he does not watch the NBA at all and really does not have a good feel for the NBA game.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

    I admit I didn't finish reading the article because after all the NBA games I've seen I tend to think the refs don't know the rules either. Or they know the rules and tend to ignore them. Or they only call fouls on players or teams they don't like.

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    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Why not get the backup official a game feed and a telephone. Allow a single ABC producer of the game to call him with questions and allow him to explain what happened in situations or to correct the announcers if there is a problem.
    That's a great idea.
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    Default Re: I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

    No, its not (IMO).

    The NBA handles refs like they are holy oracles. Having them comment on the game, even by proxy, opens the door to everything the NBA wants to avoid. What if the stand-by ref comments incorrectly on what he thinks was the call? What if the ref on the court makes an incorrect call and the stan-by ref is asked about it? What if the ref on the court is making one of those "based on the flow of the game" decisions about whether or not to make a call but the stand-by ref doesn't know thats the case?

    I don't read Cuban's blog, but I am made aware of particular entries from time to time (like this). Every entry that I have been made aware of that has included an idea of how to change how to do something, has been short sighted. That may be simply the nature of the blog but seems to go hand in hand with his player personel actions.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: I did not know that. (Cuban explains some of the rules)

    Originally Posted by Hicks
    Why not get the backup official a game feed and a telephone. Allow a single ABC producer of the game to call him with questions and allow him to explain what happened in situations or to correct the announcers if there is a problem.
    What's the backup offical going to do when the game officals make a call, the TV announcers disagree with the call and he (the backup offical) agrees with the TV announcers?

    Al Michaels "We've just talked to Joe Shmo the backup offical for tonights game. He said that Hubie and I were correct on our take on that last call. When I pressed him on why the game officials made such a bad call Joe said he couldn't comment because he still has 3 children he needs to put through college."

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