Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Your surreal moment for today. At least.

So, you think 2016's been like the kind of dream you have when you scarf down a pizza with everything right before going to bed? Like that dream where you wake up the morning of that chem final and realize you haven't gone to class all semester, and then you show up and you're not wearing pants, and suddenly it's not a chem final but an NBA game from the 1980s and you're playing for the Celtics with Bird and McHale, and they're both pointing and laughing and getting mad because Magic Johnson keeps stealing the ball from you.

We've all had that dream, right?

Um ... right?

OK, so maybe not. But, admittedly, 2016 has been plenty surreal, and not just because Prince died and Princess Leia died and John Glenn died, and the Russians and the FBI helped put a raving loon in the White House. Now comes the most surreal moment of all.

An NBA player actually defended the league's refs!

No, really. Kevin Durant actually did that.

And the really surreal part is he's right.

He's right that the NBA's "Last Two Minute Report" is bullpucky, mainly because it's so rampantly hypocritical. As KD points out, players get whacked with chunky fines if they so much as clear their throats about the league's officiating. But it's OK for the league to turn the lens on their officials for the last two minutes of a game and then publicly pick them apart for any misstep they make in those last two minutes?

As KD also points out, what about the rest of the game? What if, for 46 of the 48 minutes, Stripes has called an impeccable game? And then, in the last two minutes, he misses a call? The NBA's selective lens, and its exposure of same, leaves the general public -- which already thinks NBA officiating stinks on ice -- with the impression that NBA officiating stinks even more than it thought.

The thing is, it doesn't. Do NBA refs miss calls? Yes, they do. Do they miss them any more egregiously than officials at the college or small college of high school level? I've never seen any data that supports this. Show me that data, and I'll buy in.

But the NBA isn't doing that. In fact, its approach to officiating is completely bipolar. On the one hand, it defends its game officials and punishes any coach or player who criticizes them. On the other, it puts out for public consumption an analysis of that officiating that does a disservice to those game officials by presenting a distorted and utterly incomplete picture of their work.

As KD said. Surreal or not.

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