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May 18th, 2014 by



The 2014 NBA playoffs have produced a surprising post season for nearly all the fans of professional basketball, labeled by some as the most unpredictable playoffs in years.  Despite some questionable officiating throughout the first and second rounds, no one expected the Toronto Raptors to take the Brooklyn Nets to the final seconds of a Game 7, or that the Indiana Pacers would struggle to even face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.  The first round was capped by Damien Lillard hitting a miraculous buzzer beater to end the hopes of James Harden and Dwight Howard in a stunning Game 6 between the Rockets and the Trailblazers.  But the biggest story of the season being the Los Angeles Clippers, who played some good basketball amidst one of the biggest controversies in NBA history.  The new Commissioner, Adam Silver, took an even stronger stance than most expected when he made his now infamous press conference addressing the Donald Sterling audio presented originally by TMZ.

And lastly, arguably the most talked about and moving speech for MVP in league history, was given by this year’s winner, superstar Kevin Durant.  How many commercials does he have running again?  Congratulations to the ‘Slim Reaper’!

In the Eastern Conference the path looks clear for Miami all the way to the NBA finals, although Indiana came out strong in Game 1.  Still, Lebron James looks as if he’s saying he’d rather have his third championship ring than the MVP statue.  But the remaining teams in the West have something bigger to prove.  First, the last two teams that Miami defeated for a championship are now going head to head to potentially face them in the Finals this year.  Oklahoma City wants to prove that with a healthy Westbrook and the recent play of MVP Kevin Durant, they can finally get over the hump and win the championship.  And San Antonio wants to prove that despite what many people have said for a while, they’re not too old to win another ring, and with Poppovich at the helm they can make up for that disappointing Game 6 last year in the Finals.  They have the best record in the NBA again this year with 62 wins and they completely dominated the Trailblazers in the second round of the Semi Finals, setting themselves up for a good rest before they begin the Conference Finals against OKC on Monday night.  But the Western Conference Finals have just become that much more difficult for OKC with the loss of their premier shot blocker in Serge Ibaka, out for the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury.   So it’s looking like a rematch of last year’s Finals is on the way, unless the Indiana Pacers can surprise us all defeat Miami.

And after the last buzzer sounds and the NBA post season is over, we’ll began to speculate on where some of the biggest stars in the league will be playing next year.  Lebron James will be a free agent, and so will Carmelo Anthony who may make a trade to a team with better playoff potential like the Chicago Bulls.  Its crazy to think that Portland will not match any price to keep LaMarcus Aldridge after he posted back to back 40pt games in the first round of the playoffs, and build on his chemistry with star point guard Damien Lillard.  Kevin Love, along with up and comer Kenneth Faried from Denver, will also be free agents.  Love is reportedly being courted by the Chicago Bulls in case they cannot get Carmelo Anthony.

But there is another saga that will continue well into next season, and that is the drama with Donald Sterling, who has now refused to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, or pay the $2.5 million dollar fine attributed to him.  This opens up another big scandal for the NBA, and goes beyond just the surface of spectacular plays and intriguing interviews and well beyond Sterling.

There is an old saying, the best way to hide something is to put it right in front of your face.  We are very conditioned to never question the horrible and contradicting calls made night in and night out by some of the referees, even when we see the slow motion replays or even when the announcers emphasize the repetition of bad calls.  We saw this with the Clippers against Golden State and more recently against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6.  This continues because there are never any real consequences for these actions against the refs, at least not publicly.  Some say this is protection of the integrity of the league.  But if that’s so, which is more important to the league, the understanding of the game and rules by the players or the inconsistency of the referees?  You need rules and you need structure in the NBA and the officials provide this, but when it is not consistent then how will the players know what to do to avoid a negative blow of the whistle?  This is what has lead to the flopping era.

We tend to take for granted the fact that these athletes are the best in the world at what they do, period, which makes them that more valuable globally.  So then there’s the money.  Lebron James is reportedly the most underpaid athlete in sports history, given his natural talent and his ability to drive revenue in every city he goes to.  But let’s put physical gifts aside for a second, and try to understand the mental aspect of how it also must feel to pour out your energy season after season for the approval of a fan base who will love you one minute, then absolutely hate you the next.  And also the fan base of the opposing side which often yields screams of threats and blatant racial comments at nearly every game, and you cannot respond.  Yet the players continue to come under constant attack in the media and in public opinion more than any other position associated with professional basketball.

As fans we take in a lot of the scrutiny and bad information on television and the radio by so-called expert “Journalists” and “Analysts” that have never played the game a day in their lives, and never had an athletic bone in their body.  In this case I’d have to agree with commentator Charles Barkley when he constantly says, “We are not experts, we just give our opinions.”  Only the fans can bring more clarity to an NBA system in which to this day, not even they can clearly define what a charge foul is opposed to a blocking foul, and this includes the announcers, refs and league executives.  Although its explained that if the contact occurs while the defensive player is within the semi-circle under the basket, then that is a blocking foul, and outside the semi-circle constitutes a charging foul.



But how many times have we seen the opposite call made in both scenarios.  Remember this, when there is no clarity, there is always room for profit, to think otherwise means you have no idea of how big business truly operates.  Sometimes fans don’t want to have to think about anything other than the game, and the entertainment that comes with it.  But to change the game for the better and make it more entertaining by establishing exactly what the rules are and enforce them consistently, and competently use the instant replay to change calls or make up for missed calls to start, the fans would enjoy the quality of the game much better.  And these directives can only come from them, because they are the only ones not making money off of it.


– Cary Washington, 2014

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