As the Portland Trail Blazers head out on the road after closing a homestand with two consecutive losses, it might be time for an observation about their play -- something that's been bothering me this season.
Keep in mind, Covid-19 protocols keep us very distanced from coaches, players and anyone else connected with the team. We are forced into a role where what we see from the club level of the Moda Center at home games is what we get.
But one thing has been on my mind frequently this season that can be seen from anywhere is this team’s constant complaining to the game officials.
I don’t think I’ve seen a Portland team since the early 2000s gripe about calls and non-calls as much as this one.
Seemingly every call is disputed, not only immediately but during timeouts following the calls. It used to be taboo for coaches or players to continue discussions with referees during a stoppage, but they do it now all the time.
Even assistant coaches are surrounding referees during timeouts, certainly a welcome change from the days when referees would not recognize anyone but the head coach. Assistants couldn’t even get out of their chair on the sidelines to argue..
My point in all this is that if you complain about a call, you better have a legitimate beef. Players must certainly know that the referees look at video of almost every call they make – and especially the disputed ones.
When you complain about a call after you have obviously committed it, that official is going to see the video and remember your complaint. And the next time you complain, do you think the referee is going to take it seriously? And I see a lot of crying about calls that don't turn out to be incorrect on a replay.
And do you think he or she might even hold it against you and not give you the benefit of the doubt in the future?
Yes, sometimes complaining works. It gets you a call once in a while.
But, long term, it’s not an effective strategy with the whistle-blowers.
And don’t get me wrong – the whole league is involved in this. There is way more whining about calls than there used to be.
Referees are taking more guff from players and coaches these days than they ever have before. I see things that would have gotten you booted out of a game in the old days now go unpunished,
Since Adam Silver took over as the commissioner of the league, the pendulum has swung swiftly toward the players and this is just another example.
So many nights I have wondered if there is a strict edict that simply no technical fouls will be called.
This season, at somewhere around the halfway point of the season, Russell Westbrook and Draymond Green are tied for the NBA lead in technical fouls – with 11.
That’s a low number at this point of the season, particularly for those two well-known complainers. And yes, I know players are now suspended for a game after their 16th tech of the season. Thing is, they aren't cutting down on the behavior that used to get them called for a "T," the officials just aren't handing them out the way they used to dish them out.
Everyone in these parts knows that Rasheed Wallace owns the one-season NBA record for Ts with 41 – which seems now to be one of the least-likely records in sports to ever be broken.
I have known several NBA game officials and considered them friends over the years. Still do.
And I know they are monitored and graded on every little thing they do on the court. The fact they have to put up with so much noise from players and coaches makes the job even tougher. I also know that the day after a game they know every call they missed and got right -- and if you've gone overboard griping about a call they got right, you aren't going to get a lot of respect from them.
And if you develop a reputation as a complainer, that won't help, either.
And really, after a few decades covering the league, I remain unconvinced that overdoing the complaints has a positive impact on future outcomes.