Thursday, May 29, 2008

Swallow the Whistle

Anyone who watches basketball over the years knows that the game is refereed differently in the final moments of a close game. Referees prefer to "swallow their whistle" and let the players decide the game. While the NBA did admit that Derek Fisher's bump on Brent Barry at the end of Game 4 should have been a foul, Sports Illustrated and the Los Angeles Times has this report:

League spokesman Brian McIntyre said referees Joey Crawford, Joe Forte and Mark Wunderlich may have been following a league guideline in failing to make a call on Derek Fisher. "There is an explanation in the rule book," said McIntyre, "that there are times during games when the degree of certainty necessary to determine a foul involving physical contact is higher. That comes during impact time when the intensity has risen, especially at the end of a game. In other words, if you're going to call something then, be certain."

Gregg Popovich has never heard of such an advisory in all his years of dealing with referees. "It's a very strange thing," said Popovich, also before the league's statement. "If you talk to an official, the official will tell you that the game is called at the end of the game exactly like it is during the meat of the game. That's their story and they're going to stand by it. In reality, personally, I don't think that's true and I can give a thousand examples that things are called differently down the stretch where I think most referees feel -- and I agree with them -- that things need to be more definitive before you're going to make a call."