Once Upon A Time

Discussion in 'Pistons and Basketball Articles' started by basketbills, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. basketbills

    basketbills All-Star Forum Donor

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    Once Upon A Time

    If you want some insight into how officiating in the NBA has changed over the years get yourself a copy of Calling the Shots: My Five decades in the NBA by the late great Earl Strom.

    It’s an old book (1990) and might be hard to find but it's a gem written by one of the great personalities of the NBA.

    [floatr]http://img362.imageshack.us/img362/8302/strombook5sc.jpg[/floatr]Strom believed in calling a strong consistent game, not being influenced by the opposing crowd or whining players. He also drew a hard line with fellow refs similar to treatment Microwave dishes out to wayward posters on pf.com.

    This Strom story was originally described by Charlie Rosen. Seems a number of seasons back, Philly was playing the Nets in New Jersey. The game was a nail biter and emotions were running high. Old Earl Strom and Dick Bavetta were the senior refs, and Earl made a last-second call against the Nets, apparently ending the game with a win for Sixers.

    Suddenly Dick Bavetta ran across the hardwoods to the scorer's table, saying, "No! No! I got a push off against McGinnis!"

    Earl Strom then challenged Bavetta, "Are you over-ruling my call?"

    "I got pushing off right here!" Bavetta insisted, which reversed Stroms call and the Nets wound up with the W.

    The game over, players were walking to their respective locker rooms when the door to the referees' locker room flew open and Dick Bavetta came staggering out. His Officials jersey was ripped and he was wearing a big welt over his eye, and he appeared to be running, maybe even scoping out a place to hide.

    That's when it's reported old Earl Strom stepped out into the hallway and hollered after Bavetta, "You'll take another one of my (bleeping) calls again, right, you (bleep)?"

    [floatl]http://img363.imageshack.us/img363/6725/032706cubanhi5rv.jpg[/floatl]To be fair, being an NBA referee has got to be one tough gig. The speed of the game, the athleticism of the players, non-stop pressure from fans, screaming coaches and insane owners (like Mark Cuban)…it ain’t easy.

    Then add on some of the more complex rules like illegal defense while keeping your eye on the no-charge line and making sure no ones in the lane for 3 seconds. You pretty much have to own a tough charismatic personality like Earl Strom not be affected by all the distraction while maintaining control of the game.

    [floatr]http://img362.imageshack.us/img362/4681/arroyo3es.jpg[/floatr] Today’s officials get a lot more training to go along with the public scrutiny. They are watched more closely than all the fellas from Puerto Rico watch Carlos Arroyo.

    Consider the following, much like the players, NBA officials have annual training camps, where they hone their crafts. They are expected to arrive just like the players in top physical shape.

    It takes 10-14 years of overall college and "B" League experience before a referee is even granted consideration for a position in the NBA as an Official.

    It takes another seven years of experience for an NBA Official to call a playoff game.

    It normally takes 14-20 years for an NBA official to be selected to work an NBA Finals game (14 to 20 years? Think about that, by that time even Darko may have developed a post game!)

    Referees maintain that their calls are correct 93% of the time. That's an admirable rate of accuracy, but still 7% less than Lee356. One bad call (with a 7% probability) at the wrong time can turn a ball game the wrong way.

    Also, non-calls are a huge factor and can effect the game as much as a bad call. Throw out the name James Capers to a true Piston fan and the outrage over the phantom offensive foul on Chauncey Billups comes flooding back. What about Bill Laimbeer’s legendary phantom foul on Kareem?

    [floatl]http://img462.imageshack.us/img462/5875/vangundymourning8ya.jpg[/floatl]We all expect perfection from refs …but calling a perfect game is about as likely as Anthony Goldwire making an All-Star squad . It’s as pointless as Jeff Van Gundy hanging on Alonzo Mourning’s leg.

    But what would the game be without them? They’re as important to today's game as a disposable diaper is to Larry Brown.

    If you really want to gripe about them, though, go to www.nbarefsSuck.com…. Earl Strom would be rolling over in his grave!
  2. Dlev59

    Dlev59 Bench Warmer Moderator

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    Good stuff Bills. I have never read the book but I remember Earl vividly. One clip that comes to mind (on an old NBA greatest moments VHS!) is when Bill Walton was complaining about a foul call when he was a Boston Celtic. He continued in Strom`s ear as he took the ball out of bounds, only Earl and Walton were In the picture. While running down court together, Strom bellowed at Walton, "just shut up and play basketball you big baby". That was classic Earl Strom!
  3. G-man

    G-man Starter

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    Getting tagged...

    Nice piece Bills. Seems the refs are equally good at tagging one another, (at least Earl Strom was). Thought I might drop a couple other Offical related items in your shopping basket for more confab..

    Outside of Dallas owner Mark Cuban being fined $1M+ a couple years back, last season Houston's Jeff Van Gundy got tagged by Stern for $100,000.

    Van Gundy claimed a NBA mole told him league Officials were biased against Yao Ming, that the refs were instructed to target Ming because of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's constant complaints, email and videotape deliveries to Sterns offices. The league took umberance with idea and accusation and seriously cut into Van Gundy's expensive wardrobe allowance.

    Here's an interesting take from Cubans blog site;

    "The accusations they make have been that I “send emails and video to the league”. Which of course is true. Every team does it.

    We send emails to the league about officiating for three reasons.

    1. To make sure we understand certain rules and how they will be called. How certain things are called can evolve over the course of a season. Knowing how something is being called can be helpful.

    2. To understand if maybe an officiating crew just had a bad game, or if we had the wrong expectations on certain plays. In other words, did we think certain things were violations and they werent or were they missed calls. this also can tell you about the tendencies of a given official. This isnt however something you can do every game. This year we have sent in a list of calls to get confirmation three times. Probably a lot less than other teams.

    3. This is probably the most important reason. When a player appears to be routinely violating a rule and no call is being made. For instance, two years ago, we sent a long list of tapes showing Chris Weber of the Kings at that point, dragging his pivot all over the place to create passing lanes. It was never called. The league came back and said we were right. They would look at it and they did. And they also looked at it for our players and ended it up calling it more on Antoine Walker that serie than they did on CWebb. And you know what, thats ok with me.

    We did the same thing with Shaq stepping over the free throw line. Which in reality was the real genesis of doing this. It was so obvious to everyone and anyone that watched a game that he was doing it. No one could answer why it wasnt being called. So we made a tape and turned it in. They started calling it.

    Shaq stared at me a lot when we played them, but he fixed it and it was done with. Thats the important thing to note. Any of these things can be fixed. The players know when they are doing things that break the rules. They would stop a pickup game if someone did it. They know how to fix them as well. When it gets called consistently, they change. I consider that a big win for the NBA.

    Few things get under my skin more than emails from kids and parents asking why something so obvious isnt being called. I have no response other than “Im trying to get that changed”.

    Im a purist. The rules is the rules. I dont care if you call it on us. I expect our players to adapt and play by the rules. I also expect them to take advantage of rules violations that arent being called.

    When I decided to do this blog, after reading the comments from Sam Mitchell in Marc Steins article saying that he agreed with Phil Jacksons comments that officials were nervous nellies in Dallas, I had our guys go through and do a quick run through of our last game and what we thought were calls that we could discuss and were there any issues we should address."

    You can read the rest at;

    http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1234000453073569/
  4. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    Trivia: Once upon a time, an NBA referee actually quit to become a coach ... of the Pistons!

    His name: Charley Eckman
  5. TheeTFD

    TheeTFD All-Star

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    it's one thing to break a rule an get away with it because it was a one time thing. But when you do it over and over, it's got to be cleaned up.
    Play by the rules.
  6. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    I agree with Cuban. If I were an owner, I would probably do the same thing.

    I would send the league a tape of Shaq's patented elbow to Ben's face move. You could easily find 10 times when they called the fould on Ben for headbutting Shaq's elbow. That's some bullsh...

    I would also send in a slo-motion tape of Shaq traveling in the post set to Blue Danube. Let's hope nobody points out Rip's constant shuffling after catching a pass though.
  7. TheeTFD

    TheeTFD All-Star

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    Although Cubans spending is very anti-JD, he is still a respected owner and good for BBall. When he laid down his $250 mil for the Mavs he earned the right to know what he bought into. Cleaning up the good ole boy reffing network got lots of respect from is players. As well as some of the fines he swallowed.
  8. G-man

    G-man Starter

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    Funny, when Cuban started his public scrutiny and complaining most fans around the league thought he was a flamboyant spoiled man-child. Today, after his marriage, kids, better built team and better well rounded coaching he seems almost tame by comparison.

    I think part of the point in Bills piece is about the other side policing itself. Had Bavetta not scrambled from the room in front of players - to this day no one would likely know about the incident.

    So while we complain about we see, read and hear regarding poor officiating (subjectively reported through the the eye of the beholder) we don't really ever know whats going on behind closed doors.
  9. mercury

    mercury Bench Warmer

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    Nice piece Bills,
    Not sure if 93% s/b conisidered a successful rating but I have to say that these refs often take a bad rap...
    We sit there critiquing plays after the third slow mo replay... how many times do they show the play over and we have to sit back down confirming that it was indeed the right call...
    As you stated sometimes we don't appreciate the numerous concurrent responsibilities these guys have... without the benefit of 20 different camera angles... I think the better refs know how to anticipate plays and get themselves in the correct viewing position without getting screened off.

    These guys are definately influenced by home crowds... It would be interesting to see the discrepency of calls home and on the road.

    We often get annoyed by our players constant harping (can only imagine how other teams think about our whinning)... but the fact is...baiting works... it's not a coincidence that we have less fouls called against us (thanks Skiles)... these refs eventually begin to crack...
    2nd half fouls would also be noteworthy...

    The league is currently reviewing the ref abuse policies... if we win another ship, this will be the next "new rule" created at our expense.... can you imagine how hard it will be for Sheed to keep his trap shut (like college).

    I'm ok with them slightly expanding the instant replay... as long as it can be done without excessive delays.... in the end the right call is what should matter... even if it cost an extra 8 minutes per game.
  10. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    Quick comment. I just sat next to Dick Bavetta on a flight. Nothing too interesting to report. I tried to talk to him, but he quickly went into nap mode.
  11. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    Well he is at least 100 years old.
  12. max

    max All-Star

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    Question - what class was your section? Reason why I ask is I am curious because of the scandal 10 years ago when a few Refs were cashing in their coach tickets and buying economy pocketing the difference.

    What are they flying them on now?
  13. dba

    dba All-Star Moderator 1x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    I fly pretty much all the time and see the refs in both first and coach. I've never seen Bavetta anywhere other than first, and never seen Crawford (Danny?) anywhere other than coach.
  14. max

    max All-Star

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    thanks
  15. TaS

    TaS All-Star Forum Donor

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    He was up in first. He pockets enough cash from rigging games against the Pistons.

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