The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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The NBA's New Officiating Crisis

It was the Valley Oop the set the city and NBA world on fire last night but it was the officiating mess that could burn the NBA playoffs to the ground if the NBA isn’t careful.

I’m not here to just dwell on the negative. Last night was an absolutely incredible moment in sports and for the Suns. After years of having to watch other teams, other cities and other players have their moment, the Suns, its fan base and the city of Phoenix finally were THE moment.

We no longer had to feel like passengers in every major NBA moment of the last 12 years, the Suns are driving the NBA postseason and it is glorious.

But it shouldn’t overshadow what was a particularly concerning series of events from the officiating crew calling last night’s game.

Before I dive into specifics on the issues with last night’s officiating, let me preface it by saying I have a long track record of not being “Blame the refs” Guy.

I don’t know officials names, know their tendencies or even care what their track record is in game moments or games. Blaming an official for losing a game is almost always symptomatic of a losing mindset for a franchise or a player.

I will almost always defend officials for having an impossibly difficult job in an impossibly thankless position. Officials make hundreds of snap judgements in front of millions of people who are emotionally invested and have to be nearly perfect to avoid misery. Most of us can’t appreciate the degree of difficulty because we’ve never officiated anything that matters. 

Still, last night was a debacle for the NBA.

From whistling a play dead without calling a foul to reviewing a run of the mill out of bounds play to defying the laws of time and physics, Scott Foster and his crew either willing handed control of the officiating to the players specifically the Pat Beverley and the Clippers or they wanted to be the moment.

This crew needed to be reminded of basic rules of live balls and player substitutions on the final two possessions. Jeff Van Gundy seemed to know the rules better than they did.

Scott Foster and his gang should not officiate another Western Conference Finals and almost certainly should not be allowed to officiate another NBA playoff game.

A remarkable moment happened last night for the NBA and the Suns but it almost was lost because of officials.

The NBA has played with this fire before but it was a different era of media. If they don’t put this fire out now, the NBA will be scorched in ways the league has never experienced before.

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