Tuesday, June 04, 2002

MORE GAME SIX STUFF: A Michael Wilbon column from Sunday's paper. Here's a sample, but read the whole thing:

Let me start by declaring I have no ties to Los Angeles or to Sacramento, and have no rooting interest in the series other than that I did pick the Lakers to win in six games. And I have zero tolerance for "conspiracy" stories, that the NBA and NBC conspire to influence if not straight-up arrange the outcome. Don't believe a word of it, never have.

Having said that, I have never seen officiating in a game of consequence as bad as that in Game 6. It was bad in Game 5 in Sacramento, when the Kings got the benefit of some very questionable calls, then unforgivably rotten on Friday night in Game 6. Scot Pollard, on his sixth and final foul, didn't as much as touch Shaq. Didn't touch any part of him. You could see it on TV, see it at courtside. It wasn't a foul in any league in the world. And Divac, on his fifth foul, didn't foul Shaq. They weren't subjective or borderline or debatable. And these fouls not only resulted in free throws, they helped disqualify Sacramento's two low-post defenders.

On the other hand, Kobe Bryant elbowed Mike Bibby in the nose in plain view with the Lakers up by one, but no foul was called on Kobe, even though Bibby lay on the court and then went to the sideline bleeding. The difficult thing about refereeing an NBA game, compared with Major League Baseball and NFL games, is that virtually every single call is subjective. But the calls made on Friday night were just plain wrong, right out in the open for everybody watching on TV to see, even before replay.

Mark Cuban on one of those endless ESPN Sunday talk shows said something to the effect that there's nothing wrong with NBA referees themselves --it's just that there's no control over them by the league, which leads to the huge disparity of fouls called from game to game.

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