If you’re going to start a beef with a referee, doing so after you’ve just gotten away with a brutal, dirty hit on an opponent is probably not the best time.
Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacted to a 118-110 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in which the MVP candidate, along with teammates Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams, all fouled out of the game by pre-filling his check he’ll no doubt have to write to the league when he gets fined.
“It’s just bad officiating,” George said, according to ESPN. “I’m sorry, just bad officiating. We don’t get a fair whistle. We haven’t gotten a fair whistle all year. … Somebody’s got to look into this. It’s getting out of hand, where we somehow just walk teams to the line. And there’s nobody that gets more contact. If I don’t speak for myself, I speak for Russ. There’s nobody that gets more contact than Russ going to the basket. And it’s just crazy.
“I don’t understand it. It’s a piece of s— being on that floor. We giving everything we got. We’re playing hard. We’re getting grabbed. We’re getting scratched, clawed, held, shoved. And there’s nothing for it. The officials just get to walk out, and there’s nothing that penalizes them for not officiating the game the right way.”
And sure, you can maybe see George’s point, since one of the maxims of NBA officiating is that star players don’t get whistled as often as non-stars do. Spend some time on NBA Twitter when a small-market team is playing a star-driven one and search the small-market team’s hashtag. Fans complain about every marginal, borderline call or non-call like Tim Donaghy has money on the game.
But on the other hand …
Nurkic took a Paul George elbow right to the chin pic.twitter.com/wsnkj0AIDm
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) March 8, 2019
That’s George against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night smashing Jusuf Nurkic in the face with an elbow on his way to the basket for a layup.
No foul was called on the play, and the league office did not review the incident after the game even though the NBA can, at its discretion, issue post hoc flagrant fouls and dish out fines and suspensions to offending players.
So the referees are against Oklahoma City, are they?
Then why have the Thunder taken more free throws than their opponents this season by a margin of fully one attempt per game?
Why have the Thunder and their opponents been whistled for nearly exactly the same number of fouls (1,508 for the Thunder vs. 1,506 for their opponents through Friday) over the course of 66 games?
And considering how many free throws the Thunder have taken on the same number of fouls, this means a greater percentage of Oklahoma City’s calls are shooting fouls.
The NBA even outright admitted that it blew the call on George’s elbow on national television.
Monty McCutchen, the league’s vice president of referee development and training, went on “The Jump” and explained the blown call for ESPN’s viewing audience.
“I think that he’s fighting through some tight traffic,” McCutchen said of George. “His hand comes up off the ball, catches Jusuf in the face. I think it should have been an offensive foul. I don’t think it’s flagrant myself.”
Which, OK, if the VP of ref development says it’s not a flagrant, fine, but an elbow to the head is overwhelmingly called as such when someone who isn’t an MVP candidate does it.
The stats don’t back up George’s claim. The eye test, thanks to Thursday’s game on TNT, also doesn’t back up George’s claim.
If PG13 really wants to take beefing with the refs to another level, maybe he can study game film and work on his Tim Duncan face so at least NBA Twitter has something to make memes about.
But Paul George is an NBA player, and complaining about referees is as much a part of playing in the NBA as dribbling a basketball.
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