Does this Series Feel Familiar Yet?
The numbers don’t look that bad when you line ’em up. Although basketball, is a fragile game. It’s not just the fouls, it’s the timing of the fouls. Calling a crucial foul, like the bogus one called on James Harden as time ticked down on Sunday night, changes a game. That’s all it takes in a close series. And one team is getting those calls lately and the other isn’t. The game is not being officiated in an unbiased way. Explain to me how a 280 pound behomth that loves driving the lane has 6 fouls in 3 games. All the while, a guy built like a light-pole in Kevin Durant, somehow has had double that number of fouls called against him. This is a guy that doesn’t foul. He averages 2 per-game in the regular season. Shane Battier is doing the Irish jig on his way to getting charge calls down the stretch. It feels like the refs are being specifically instructed to get Durant out of his rhythm with foul trouble.
Just as Tim Donaghy and Co. did to Amar’e Stoudamire and the Suns a few years ago when those games were fixed. It doesn’t take an egregious, glaring moment to fix a game. All it takes, when it’s two good teams, is a call down the stretch. Sending LeBron to the stripes with 20 seconds left and the shot clock bleeding down would qualify. That’s all Donaghy had to do: look the other way while Steve Nash got hip checked and hand-guarded, then blow quick whistles on Amar’e as he played air-defense against “The Big Fundamental.”
Well, I hope it’s not the case, but it’s starting to feel like “a little bit of history repeating.” The Suns were lost with Amar’e’s agression toned down and stuck in panic mode. The same can be said for KD. If you screw with the Durantula’s attitude, it’s shown that it can ruin the whole team’s flow. Now, the question David Stern wants to pretend doesn’t exist anymore, is this being done intentionally?
One can hope it’s just terrible refereeing (with the home team getting more fouls called their way in each game). But color me skeptical when I see a team that worked like hell to squeeze by a half-zombie Boston Celtic bunch; then, Boom, all of a sudden, get sailing and rock OKC’s very alive bunch onto it’s heels. The Thunder just handily beat the team with the best record in the business and the best coach in any racket. That series was down the middle in terms of refereeing though. Something smells fishy here. Unless you wanna ask the left tackle they call LeBron James how he seems to maneuever away from the best athletes on the planet so regulary? Maybe Stern wants his King to have a crown (and with it, pipe down all the negative pub). Maybe he just wants a 7-game series, to keep ratings rolling (see link if you don’t remember the things he’ll do for ratings). Maybe I’m just nuts for thinking something’s off about LeBron James fouling out of 2, yes 2, games since the year 2008. And now Durant isn’t allowed to dribble inside the paint.
Maybe we need a new commissioner.
Columnist: Pat N.