League's silence damages credibility
Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:48 am
Pretty interesting read in the CC Times
NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who was caught gambling on NBA games and funneling info to the Mafia, was a "rogue" official, huh?
It is a laughable coincidence that official Bob Delaney -- who made a controversial call at the end of the Warriors' 123-119 overtime loss to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Monday -- recently released a book about going undercover in the mob for New Jersey's finest.
Delaney, by most accounts, is one of the league's best officials. He deserves the benefit of the doubt that he didn't make that bogus offensive foul call on Warriors guard Monta Ellis because he had five large on the Lakers under the alias Slick D on Bodog. So, that means his decision with four seconds left Monday night had to be the product of his getting caught up in the excitement and losing his head.
But Delaney was not a rogue in Monday's blunder. His co-officials, who had a much better angle, are at least accomplices for allowing him to go through with such blatant misjudgment. Both Olandis Poole and Luis Grillo were in position to see Lakers guard Derek Fisher pull Ellis to the ground with four seconds left on the clock in overtime and the Warriors down 121-119.
Most important, charge the NBA with accessory after the fact because Tuesday came and went without testimony from the league office. No apology. No admission it was the wrong call. No disclosure of Delaney's evaluation.
What happened to the new openness with the fans that commissioner David Stern promised in the wake of the Donaghy scandal? If there were ever a time for the league office to put out a statement, this was it. It needed to acknowledge that Delaney made a bad call at the worst time. The league's silence certainly doesn't help the perception of referees. So far, the only recognition is Delaney canceling his appearance on KNBR to promote his new book "Covet."
Delaney's misdeed isn't negated by the Warriors' missed free throws, or that they were losing and it wasn't a guarantee they would've tied the game. The fact is, whether for excellence or ineptitude, NBA games often come down to the final moments regardless. Everything else is filler. And officials can't steal the show in those moments.
Video evidence shows Delaney wasn't even looking at Fisher and Ellis until their tango crash-landed. Plus, Fisher has a reputation for his flopping.
But even if Ellis and his 177 pounds did barrel over the stronger Fisher, that situation does not warrant that call. Not with the ball still out of bounds. Not at that stage of the game. Not with playoffs at stake.
The fact that an official decided the game, a hugely important and thrilling game, is enough for the NBA to say/do something to reassure fans these games are on the up-and-up.
The talent and competitiveness of the Western Conference is drawing people in to the NBA. The postseason is set to be loaded with high drama as great teams collide in every round. It would be a shame if a playoff series or two were tainted by poor officiating, or the perception that the games were fixed. Which is why it is so important for the NBA to stick to its promises of an offseason ago, promises to make the officials more accountable and to be open about the process of evaluating and grading officials.
Certainly, Delaney did not cost the Warriors the game. But he did cost the NBA, which is desperate to recover from the Donaghy scandal, some credibility in the referee department. Delaney's call -- however convincingly he charged in and emphatically signaled an offensive foul on Ellis -- and the NBA's decision not to acknowledge the mistake hardly helps the image.