Gregg Popovich on NBA’s Last Two Minutes referee reports: “it’s sort of an odd practice”
It’s become a daily ritual during the playoffs: The day after a close game with close or controversial calls down the stretch, the NBA releases its “Last Two Minutes” report and points out the referees mistakes — and correct calls, but who wants to talk about those? For example, from Wednesday night the league said Kyle Lowry should not have been called for the shooting foul on Dwyane Wade that was whistled with 1:54 left.
No series has seen more of these calls than the Thunder and Spurs. First, there was the whistle-free 13 seconds of rugby at the end of Game 2. Then there were two missed calls that went against the Spurs at the end of Game 5.
But the reports themselves have led to controversy: If the league is not changing the outcomes of games based on the reports (and they are not, the reports are simply informational), why undercut the referees by making their most critical mistakes public?
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn’t sure either, as reported by ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.
The NBA is in a Catch-22 here.
Since before the reports were released and to this day there is a healthy NBA referee conspiracy theory alive and well on Twitter. Fans — particularly of losing teams — are convinced of a grand plan to keep their team out of the next round because the NBA wants the bigger market/bigger star/whatever for television ratings. Even though if that were the case the Knicks, Bull, and Lakers would never be bad. But whatever, I’m not here to argue with the tinfoil hat crowd, because there is no logical debate with them.
The point is, new Commissioner Adam Silver tries to combat that perception by making these reports (which have been around for years) public. Silver is a modern-style CEO and a believer in transparency. But the criticism that this just undercuts the referees and makes people more frustrated with officials is a valid one.
There is no good answer with the reports.
Would it be nice if the referees got more calls correct? Of course. But that’s part of the human element of sport, and we don’t want that completely out of the game either. So we live with it — and argue about it, but ultimately live with it.