To say the NBA is rigged would be something to say of the past and definitely not right now, but the relationship between the players and the officials of the game could not be worse. The notorious 2002 Western Conference Finals in the NBA would set a precedent that would haunt the NBA for years. The story behind that series is that the referees took complete control of the game because they were given bribes to allow the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals, by recognizing calls in the favor of Los Angeles. Those Lakers were up against arguably one of the best offensive showcases in the history of the NBA - the Sacramento Kings. This case is still brought up today in the NBA because it perfectly exemplifies what kind if impact the referees can have on a game.
Today, reputation has a lot to do with the influence of the calls. For example, Demarcus Cousins of the New Orleans Pelicans has a reputation of being aggressive and emotionally invested in all of his games. Sometimes his emotions can get the best of him and he can direct it towards the referees in a spew of profanities. All the referees in the league know that Cousins is a hot-head, thus are more prone to give him technical fouls, which the players get fined for after the game. So, this relationship effects more than just the game, it also effects the pockets of the NBA players as well, so some may take it personal. When a player is in foul trouble, meaning that they have a lot of fouls early in the game, their coach will have the incentive to take him out of the game in order to avoid more fouls and eventually fouling out – which you need 6 of to foul out. Therefore, players argue with the referees a lot to try and rescind a call, so they can log more minutes and gain more stats.
The NBA Players Union have recently met with officials, according to ESPN, and have tried to hash things out with the National Basketball Referee Association (NBRA). Reports of a 2-hour plus conversation have said to emerge from this meeting. “In this meeting, we took some important steps in identifying existing frustrations for both sides,” NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said in the joint statement. “Now with that information, we plan to move forward and continue to work together to find solutions that will enhance the on-court experience for both parties.”
Trust is an important factor that the referees and players both need to adhere to. Both parties must allow for calm, communication and must be able to find common ground. Players know that regulating a game is not an easy thing to do, but they also demand excellence since it is the NBA. Coaches also need to trust referees because there have been a lot of times that the referee has thrown a coach out of a game because of their behavior and fans need to understand that players miss shots and referees miss calls.
Meetings with the referees and the players can only induce positivity throughout the league to ensure accuracy and fairness. The future of the league is very bright and we can see that from the leadership of the players and the growing number of audience. The NBA is becoming the most popular sport in the United States, becoming more popular than the NFL, so the league must set a standard to show everyone else that harmony can be brought between the officials and the players.
Sam Chavarria is a CSUITEMUSIC.com Sports Blogger.
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