Culture of Hoops

Does “Swallowing the Whistle” Hurt the NBA?

Image courtesy of Michael E. Lee/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Michael E. Lee/Flickr.

As someone who has performed referee duties, I am not one to constantly second guess officials. I know that as a human being you’re going to make mistakes, call things that were not fouls, miss fouls that seemed obvious to everyone, but I have a real issue with the circumstances surround the loss of the Houston Rockets to the Memphis Grizzlies the other night.

Front-runner for the NBA MVP Award, James Harden was driving to the net in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter with the game tied when he was tomahawk chopped across the arms by Zach Randolph.

Harden felt it, the crowd heard it, and everyone saw it except the referees.

The ball fluttered to Marc Gasol, the Grizz called a timeout, and they managed a last-second play that won them the game.

In the grand scheme of things this single play was not the reason the Rockets lost the game, and one loss in 82 games is not the difference between getting into or missing the playoffs, however I feel like this blatant oversight requires a review of league rules regarding instant replay and challenges.

I believe within the last two minutes of any game that has teams within nine points of each other, a league official should be watching the game from a neutral location and can call the officials for any obvious missed call, or incorrect call.

The call will blink on the official board, and will be answered at the first stoppage in play. The officials will review the video evidence, agree with the assessment and move the clock back to that instance and play will resume. A coach will not be granted the ability to challenge a play, but may request a timeout to provide extra time for the league office to review replays.

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