NBA Player X: Refs play favorites
April, 1, 2010
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I was asked the other day what I think of the referees this season. My answer: I hate the referees.
I was only kidding, kind of.
Lately, the refs have treated me and my teammates OK, but there was a point earlier this season when they were acting like they were bigger than the game. Joey Crawford, especially. That guy. You can't even ask him a question; he won't even look at you. Did you see what happened a few years ago when he challenged Tim Duncan, of all people, to a fight during a game? Ridiculous. The guy is a hothead, and players around the league know that whenever he refs a game there is gonna be some drama. More foul calls, more technicals, more delays. If you're watching a game and see Joey Crawford as one of the refs, expect controversy. It's a shame but it's true.
I always say that you can tell the difference between a young ref and a veteran guy. Generally speaking, players like young refs better because they don't tend to favor coaches or individual players, they just call the game as they see it. The problem is they are constantly being overruled by older refs. They'll make the right call and then an older ref will come running in and say, "Are you sure that's the right call?" Then the young guy will be like, "Well, what did you see?" They don't want to show the older guy up so they defer to him, and he's most likely biased. That's right, you'd think that the veteran referees would be more mature and balanced about their calls, but really they just carry more baggage onto the court.
Of course, the refs, young and old, are always getting worked over during the game by players and coaches. We played Charlotte earlier this season and Larry Brown completely controlled the whistle. The same thing happens with Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson and George Karl -- they're considered the greatest coaches in the league so it's easy for them to get the refs to do their bidding. I guess it's no surprise that refs favor winners. Let's say you're a great team and you're on a fast break and someone fouls you. A ref won't call it right away, he'll let you dunk, then call the foul so you get the three-point play. But if you're on a bad team they'll call a ticky-tack foul right away. No dunk for you.
Me, I always try to chat up the younger refs during the game. I'm a pretty calm guy, so I usually start with "Excuse me, sir. Can you explain to me what just happened?" Then I'll ask him to check the call at halftime because I think he missed it. My favorite response -- and this is what they usually say -- is, "That wasn't my call. Ask him." I get that a lot. Maybe I'm not one of the refs' favorites like some guys in the league. For instance, Kevin Durant has impressed me with his ability to get a whistle at such a young age. He had 15 free throws the other night! LeBron always gets calls, obviously. Kobe gets fewer than you'd think because he travels all the time. But the guy who gets the most calls by far is Dwyane Wade, even though he carries the ball a lot and is always falling down. The refs like his personality, I guess. He never met a ref he didn't like.
Chris Paul gets away with the most talking. There have been times when I've seen him curse a ref out like, "What the f--- are you looking at you ---hole?! Learn how to call a f------ game!!" The ref will be like, "My bad, I'll get you next time." What?!! If that had been me I'd have been T'd up and thrown out. You can't curse at a ref without getting a technical or at least a stern warning. Unless you're Chris Paul, who can say whatever he wants.