Opinion: There is nothing worse in sports than NBA officiating

Matt Poe

Put on your crotchety old man loafers and knee-high socks for this hot take.

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost Game 3 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors in stunning fashion, having led by six points with under three minutes to go until the Warriors pulled off an 11-0 run to seal the game.

The final dagger came courtesy of a pull-up 3-pointer from Kevin Durant with 45 seconds to go, putting Cleveland in a 3-0 series hole the likes of which no NBA team has ever clawed its way back from. The dude has been unconscious all series, literally on another planet in terms of shooting efficiency and scoring percentage.

I could continue on with such a recap about how the game unfolded, like Lebron making that hilarious turnover at the end of the game, begging for a foul call like Oliver Twist begging Mr. Bumble for food. Please, sir, I want some more!

I could tell you how Tyronn Lue is a boneheaded coach and not having the team foul Draymond Green in the final minute was further proof that I could do this guy’s job for half the cost.  

But as you know, I save such recaps for rarer occasions than this. Instead, I want to call to attention how truly awful NBA officiating is in terms of consistency, fairness in calls and overall ability to influence the pace of the game.

First off, I am not a Cleveland fan so this isn’t some whiny plea because my team lost and I need some convenient outlet to use as a scapegoats.

Lebron James’ passive-aggressive attitude and general cry baby-ness towards all things that don’t go his way will never win me over to root for him or his team. Other than that, seems like a nice guy!

I don’t know what a foul call is in the NBA anymore. On numerous occasions in last night’s game, a defender will stand straight up as a shooter leans into him to draw a foul, and so the foul is called.

Yet it’s usually only reserved for star players. Sure it happens all season, but those games are meaningless in comparison to The Finals (duh).

Speaking of which, the preferential treatment that star NBA players get for foul calls is unparalleled to any other sports league.

Sure, annoying-ass NHL players like Sidney “Cindy” Crosby will get such treatment here and there, and the same can likely be said about a pass interference call in the NFL on someone like Dez Bryant.

But when you compare it to the frequency of how often NBA stars get this preferential treatment compared to every other player on the field or court, it’s not even close.

It further allows all this room for interpretation from the officials because what may be a foul committed against Durant or Steph Curry is suddenly not a foul when it’s inflicted on a role player.

Shaun Livingston could literally get whacked by the mafia on the court, in front of you, me, God, his children and the hot dog vendor and no foul would be called.

And no, I don’t need any damn proof or analytics when dissecting the star treatment call; I have eyeballs and a brainstem (or so I think.)

If anything, it’s these role players who are actually the ones who deserve a call in their favor here and there because star players will get calls no matter what due to the frequency in which they possess the ball over the course of a game.  

For the casual fan like myself who has no vested interest in one team, the NBA officials absolutely kill any desire I have to watch these games.

Oh  I haven’t mentioned that there is literally a travel on every play. Again, nothing new but my god, it is more egregious than ever.

If I have to watch Lebron or James Harden or anyone else take 17 steps en route to the basket only to get breathed on improperly and then flail their arms like they’re Willem Dafoe in “Platoon,” I’m going to lose my damn mind.

Yes, old man Poe, I understand that officials in all sports get calls wrong or have the possibility of negatively influencing the game.

But in no other league is there less consistency in officiating than in the NBA. None. It’s not even close.

So while Durant and company continue drinking from the chalice of Cleveland’s tears that has overrunneth plentiful, I will sit in my rocker and reminisce about days of officiating past.

Ah, the nostalgia really gets my bowels moving. Or maybe that’s just my morning coffee. 

Anyway, I’d like to think NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has been very proactive in a variety of areas since becoming commissioner in 2014, would do something to help curb this epidemic. In all likelihood, he won’t. More free throws, yay!

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to flip on the Stanley Cup Final and watch some great hockey accompanied by a beautiful display of officiating (Crosby dives, referee calls a penalty).

Dammit, you have got to be kidding me (face palm emoji).

Matt Poe is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]