Towards the end of the fourth quarter last night, Kendrick Perkins tipped in a shot that, under current NBA rules, shouldn't have been counted. Had the shot not been counted, the Nuggets would have kept the lead for another possession, potentially inspiring a different outcome in the game. Some Nuggets fans are outraged, and Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post had the following to say in his article regarding the situation:
And, when you talk privately with members of the Nuggets organization, they clearly believe humble, loyal and immensely talented Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant is being groomed as the league's rising star in a system that makes pro basketball so popular with celebrity-obsessed America. Denver is nothing more than a nuisance in Durant's way.
Never mind the undeniable reality that the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers trail their first-round playoff series against New Orleans or that Dwight Howard, the larger-than-life centerpiece of Orlando's Magic kingdom, appears to be in giant postseason trouble against Atlanta.
So why would anyone of power in the league root against the Nuggets?
Nevertheless, the NBA must deal with an image problem....
He goes on to call Oklahoma City's team "The Asterisks". Well, if we're asterisks, so were the Jazz making the fourth seed last year and defeating the Nuggets in six games. Why? Well, I think we all remember this end-of-game situation:
Below: What would have happened had the Thunder beaten the Jazz, Getting Rid of the Offensive Goaltending Rule, and How the Nuggets Wouldn't Have Won the Game Anyway!
This call was given the same treatment by the NBA, who later admitted that the call was wrong, and that they were sorry. And guess what? The Jazz got the fourth seed by virtue of a tiebreaker with Utah, and the Thunder were stuck in eighth because of losing tiebreakers with Portland and San Antonio. Thus, had this game been called correctly and had Durant sank his free throws, the Jazz would have been in fifth, and the Thunder would have been in sixth. Who knows how different things would have been had the Nuggets had homecourt advantage and had the Thunder faced the Suns, rather than the Lakers, in the first round?
The point is, it doesn't matter. And the NBA/Refs sometimes just makes the wrong call. It's not favored towards one player or another, or even towards one city or another. Utah is one of the NBA's smallest media markets, and Deron Williams isn't a hugely marketable star. Neither is Jerry Sloan's tough coaching. So what possible incentive could the NBA have had for intentionally not making the call? None.
But the NBA should do what it can to make it so that as little as possible is left up to interpretation. And the offensive goaltending rule is one of the hardest rules to judge. The basket is usually the farthest thing on the court from the refs, and the play happens in a split second. It's easy to criticize the refs non-call when looking at the situation from afar and through a slow-motion high-definition camera, but actually being on the floor in the midst of the action is an entirely different situation. In fact, I'm usually surprised at how good of a job the refs do.
Thus, my solution is as follows: Get rid of the offensive goaltending rule. International basketball doesn't follow that rule, and it hardly affects games at all. You get a few more tip-in dunks per game, and that's about it. Plus, international basketball is doing several things to accommodate the NBA and make their game closer to a NBA style of basketball. So why not return the favor in a small way? It would do nothing but generate a few more highlights and and bring good press abroad.
But, I really doubt that was the reason the Thunder won the game. Sure, you can argue about how the Nuggets would have done something other than a Raymond Felton three had they been down by 1 instead of three with eleven seconds to go, but the Nuggets hadn't made a shot in three minutes. Their offense was sputtering, and the Thunder had the momentum.
In the end, all I have to say is that life, sometimes, is unfair. But if the Nuggets want to make it right, then they have every opportunity to win game two. Come on guys, the asterisks are ready.