NBA referees have it rough. In fact, all referees do. It's their job to call transgressions of the rules, but when they do, more often than not, someone's bound to complain. Yes, of course, referees get the calls wrong at times; they're human, after all. But even when they do get the calls right -- and that's the case most of the time -- hardly anyone applauds them for it.
Nevertheless, perhaps there's a benefit to NBA players, coaches, and fans being so rough on referees. Maybe being constantly reminded that each call they make is monitored by several watchful and judgmental eyes helps keep referees more alert and more honest. And besides, some of the calls that NBA referees make (or don't make) are just flat out ridiculous.
With the purpose of calling for continued improvements in NBA officiating (and also for us to enjoy a good dose of laughs), we present ten of the worst calls and non-calls by NBA referees:
10 Rasheed Wallace Ejected for Staring
Rasheed Wallace is infamously known as the king of technical fouls, and deservedly so. Having collected over 300 Ts throughout his career, Sheed is currently the NBA's all-time leader in technical fouls committed. In fact, he also holds the single-season record for most Ts called against a player, 41 during the 2000-01 season, which comes up to an average of around one technical foul for every two games.
Truth be told, the hot-headed Wallace deserves almost all of the Ts called against him. But there's one technical foul incident in particular where Sheed's reputation seems to have preceded him. It happened during the 2000 Western Conference Finals, when Wallace's Portland Trail Blazers faced the Los Angeles Lakers. Referee Ron Garretson called two technical fouls on Rasheed that got him booted out of the game. The first one was committed while Wallace was on the sidelines but continued to protest a foul Garretson had called against him. The second one? It was for staring.
9 Cory Maggette Tavels Six Times in One Play
Travels are among the most under-called rule violations in the NBA. But it's hard to blame the officials for that, really; it would take superhuman powers for a referee to be constantly aware of how many steps a player has taken in between dribbles. The consequence, though, is that traveling calls are often missed. But is it still forgivable if officials fail to cite all six traveling violations in a player's single touch of the ball?
8 Jason Terry for the No-Contact Foul
Foul calls are almost impossible to protest successfully. When a referee says that there was unwarranted contact on a play, even if the contact was really negligible, the rest of the world would be wise to simply convince themselves that the contact was foul-call worthy. Besides, determining just how much contact constitutes a foul is largely subjective. But what if there was clearly no contact at all?
7 Tim Duncan Ejected for Laughing
On April 15, 2007, veteran referee Joe Crawford made a call that he said changed his life. It happened in a game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks as Crawford called a technical foul on San Antonio Spurs mainstay Tim Duncan, who at that time was seated on the bench. According to Crawford, Duncan had insulted him with an expletive. An incredulous Duncan then proceeded to laugh and clap as the technical free throw awarded to the Mavs was missed. Then, on the next play, a blocking foul was called on a Spurs player, causing Duncan to again laugh in amusement. That caused Crawford to call another "T" on Duncan, effectively tossing him from the game.
6 Mo Peterson Slapped With a T for Slapping
Slapping a player from the opposing team is an act that deserves to be punished. But shouldn't the difference between a malicious slap and a friendly one be recognized? Apparently, the NBA makes no such distinction.
5 Ref Commits Foul, Then Calls One
4 Bibby Fouls Kobe with His Nose
This video is one of a few that clearly demonstrates the polarizing nature of one of the best men to play the game. It also serves its purpose of showing just how ridiculous this call during Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals between the LA Lakers and the Sacramento Kings really was.
3 The Foul From Out of Nowhere
It's logical to assume that a contact foul should actually involve some contact. Obviously, contact is impossible if the players involved are nowhere near each other. Our beloved referee Joe Crawford, however, can apparently sense when psychic fouls are committed as he seems to have called one against Marcus Camby during Game 5 of the first round of the 2010 Western Conference playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns.
2 Delay of Game for Touching the Ball
In an October 2013 game between the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mike Dunleavy is called for perhaps the most unreasonable delay of game violation imaginable. After he makes a layup, Dunleavy understandably jogs back to the other end of the court, but in so doing, runs into the ball and gently tosses it to the side. Well, an official believed that the act constituted a delay of game violation and awarded a free throw to OKC.
1 Fouled by Own Teammate
During the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinal between the Detroit Pistons and the Orlando Magic, Keyon Dooling was successfully able to fish a foul... from his own teammate, Marcin Gortat. Predictably, the Pistons bench was very upset by the call. Dooling, meanwhile, was hilariously pumped up by what he had accomplished.
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