Storyline: Officiating Complaints

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If there’s one adjustment the Cavs can make for Game 3, it’s to simply move on from what happened here. “At the end of the day, if you don’t give effort and you don’t play hard, you never give yourself a chance to win,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day, you control what you can control. Just go out and play. Make or miss, you think you got fouled, you think it’s a travel — you have to get back on defense and communicate. That’s what Golden State wants. They want you to hang back, complain to the refs because they’re going to come down and knock a three in your face.”
3 weeks ago via ESPN

The NBA’s new vice president and head of referee development and training, McCutchen observes the Game 1 crew move with precision from end to end. McCutchen, after a 25-year career as one the league’s most highly-regarded game officials, is pleased with what he’s witnessing tonight. It isn’t merely that the calls are decisive and clean — with the world’s top players even, at times, raising their hands in acknowledgment that they’d committed a foul — it’s how they’re being made. “It’s not about the minutiae of the 100 percent accuracy,” McCutchen says in the second quarter. “I’m looking at our positioning. Our mind is given away by our body. If we are in dependable positions, then we’re adhering to our principles and this will lead to good work. Tonight, their bodies are showing that they’re in control of their minds. And if we’re in the right places, then I trust our judgment.”
3 weeks ago via ESPN

One row up and 10 seats over, Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations — and McCutchen’s boss — is similarly pleased as an exciting game with a razor-thin margin heads toward the midway point of the fourth quarter. Spruell, hired two summers ago, has presided over an initiative by the NBA to improve officiating. “This is the quality product of intense competition being played out by great players on the court and adjudicated by excellent referees,” Spruell would say the following morning. “That’s what you’re sitting there watching. In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘We’re getting another clean game.’ And then what happened happened.”
3 weeks ago via ESPN

By and large, according to the league, NBA officials get the vast majority of calls correct. An independent website examining data from the controversial “last two-minutes reports” determined that more than 92 percent of calls during that period are correct. Moreover, the league’s data shows that referees in this year’s playoffs, including Game 1 of the Finals, have an accuracy rate of 92.6 percent in the last two minutes and overtime when taking into account whistles and non-calls. “NBA officiating,” McCutchen says frequently, “is about excellence, not perfection.”

Plenty will be discussed following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 124-114 Game 1 loss against the Golden State Warriors. But the two plays getting the most attention happened in the final minute of regulation, with LeBron James’ overturned block/charge and JR Smith’s blunder after grabbing an offensive rebound following George Hill’s missed free throw. Here is the explanation from the NBA officials on the 50/50 call that went against Cleveland:

Tyronn Lue: “For our team to come out and play their hearts out and compete the way we did, man, I mean, it’s bad. It’s never been done before where you know he’s outside the restricted, and then you go there and overturn the call and say it’s a block. It’s never been done, ever, in the history of the game. And then (Thursday) in the Finals on the biggest stage, when our team played well, played our (butt) off, man, it ain’t right. It ain’t right.”

For Beal, the series has encouraged him not to predict how the officials’ whistle will blow. “Every game is different because every ref is different. Every level of play, every level of physicality, is different. I never come in with the mind-set that every call is going to be the same,” Beal said Monday. “I expect them to be different.” Beal did not break down video footage of his six Game 4 fouls. The review would have been pointless, he said. “At the end of the day, I know if I fouled a guy or not. If I fouled him, I fouled him. I know how to keep myself out of those situations moving forward,” Beal said. “But if I didn’t foul him and they called me for a foul, I know I didn’t foul him, I’m not going to change anything.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Washington Wizards All-Stars John Wall and Bradley Beal felt that officials missed a few calls during Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, and they are ready to adjust to that for Game 2. Beal said Tuesday that the Raptors were especially physical during their 114-106 victory in Game 1. “They hold and grab a lot,” Beal said at the Wizards’ shootaround before Game 2. “That is something that will be a different story tonight. Just making sure that I am constantly moving, making them tired, especially when they put Kyle [Lowry] on me, just tire him out as much as possible.”
2 months ago via ESPN

All of this is happening in a season in which technical fouls are down significantly (the fewest in the past three seasons), and the NBA says its internal tracking shows little changes to the way games have been called in recent years. “There’s a narrative that has built up a life of its own,” said Monty McCutchen, who went from being the league’s highest-rated official to the head of referee training and development in another midseason move to deal with officiating concerns. “There’s part truth and part falsehood. To deny there aren’t problems is foolhardy and arrogant. We can’t live in a state of denial. We’re taking stock and seeing this as an opportunity for growth. But everyone, including the players and coaches, has to keep up their end of the communication bargain.”
2 months ago via ESPN

A topic that came up repeatedly in discussions with stakeholders was how the league has operated differently under Silver and vice president of operations Kiki VanDeWeghe than their predecessors. According to those who communicate with him regularly, VanDeWeghe especially tends to play peacemaker more often than Rod Thorn and Stu Jackson, who held the position under David Stern. While this is welcomed by some, it can leave a gray area on rule interpretations. It was one of the reasons the unions agreed to communicate directly with each other when needed, sources said.
2 months ago via ESPN

The hope is this will allow at least some basis for improvement in the playoffs. “The conversations at the meetings have been great. People were able to voice their concerns in an environment that didn’t include competition,” McCutchen said. “I don’t think we’re off the rails. What we’ve tried to get across is that disagreeing with a call doesn’t mean a lack of poise. Poise is an important part of all of our jobs and we’re going to keep working to find that balance.”

Former referee Monty McCutchen, now an NBA vice president overseeing referee development and training, and NBA senior vice president Michelle Johnson met with clubs to listen to their perspective. McCutchen’s biggest hope is finding a way to make communication better, on all sides. He stressed to teams that he wasn’t meeting with them solely to defend and protect officials. “Our league needs strong officials,” McCutchen said. “What we’re trying to shoot for is this idea that you can have strength without arrogance and you can show humility without having to give into weakness. And that sort of Goldilocks moment, where the porridge is just right, is the balance in which we can start to disagree about the play without being demeaning or condescending or arrogant to one another.”

Marcus Morris getting fined again?

Morris was ejected for jawing with Raptors players after he was fouled in the waning seconds of the Celtics’ win. He received a double technical after a verbal confrontation with CJ Miles, who initially fouled him, and then again with DeMar DeRozan while he was at the foul line. The second double technical ejected him from the game, at which point he patted Williams on the behind and left the court to a chorus of cheers. “When I first got here people knew who I was,” Morris told reporters after the game. “So it’s not different. I think they’re just starting to love me more. I think they liked me, but now they’re starting to love me, so I appreciate that.” The NBA has not issued a punishment for Morris’ actions. Players are barred from making contact with officials. The league previously fined Morris $15,000 for verbally abusing an official last month.

And now that the chippy small forward is retired and therefore free from further damage to his bank account, he is happy to torch the NBA’s disciplinary structure. “I would fire everybody in charge because they’re just out of touch,” Barnes told The Crossover by telephone last week. “The fines are ridiculous. They play favorites. These new referees are so arrogant and ego-driven. They’re handing out [technical fouls] like they’re candy to kids. That’s thousands of dollars a pop. They pay us a lot of money, but they do their best to take it back.”

Many players and some fans are aware that all fine money is donated to charity. But where exactly does all that money go? And is there anything a player can do to direct his fine towards a pet philanthropic project? “[The league] took my money and I never knew where it went,” Barnes said. “And they’re taking the money at such a high rate that it should have gone towards something that I wanted. As players, we earned the money. A $50,000 fine is a s—load of money. Let me send that to my non-profit or one of my friend’s non-profits so that I know it’s really making a difference.”
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According to Robinson, Kawhi has to take responsibility and step up as a leader of the franchise if he wants to be viewed on the same level as LeBron James. “If you want to be a top two or three player in the league, you’ve got to be a leader. LeBron doesn’t sit around waiting for people to talk for him. LeBron gets out there and says ‘hey, this is my team, this is what’s happening.’ And I think that’s where Kawhi is. He’s meant so much for our franchise. We love him, we all want him to be there next year. But we want him to be there and take control.”
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Has Riley had any conversations with Dwyane Wade, who is contemplating retirement, recently? “I haven’t talked to Dwyane,” he said. “I’ve talked to his agent. I think now over the next nine days between now and July the 1st, now we can focus on all these things. We’ve shared texts. He’s communicated on a regular basis with a lot of people in the organization, but nothing has been decided with Dwyane. We want to have Dwyane back obviously, but there’s been no discussion about next year.”