Refs Partly To Blame For Garnett Suspension

I watched the Game 1 of the Celtics-Heat series at my local bar, and happened to catch Garnett’s elbow live. At the time I turned to my wife and mentioned that he’ll be suspended for the next game. I also had to explain to her who Quentin Richardson was, how important Garnett was to the Celtics, and how the league will review the tape to issue the suspension. Today the league has announced that Garnett won’t be allowed to play in Game 2, which really isn’t much of a surprise to anyone. However there is one other thing that I noted to my wife. Garnett’s suspension is partially the fault of the referees.

I’m not saying that I condone K.G.’s actions, and I think the league did the (obviously) right thing. However, I think should the front offices rewind the tape a little further, they’ll find something that contributed to the melee. Watch this clip, that shows the action on the court right before the melee began. Pierce and Garnett execute the pick & roll while the Heat switch and Udonis Haslem is responsible for guarding Pierce. Haslem’s defensive technique is perfect… for an NFL cornerback bumping a WR off the line of scrimmage. The Heat defender gets his hands into Pierce’s midsection and gives him a hip check altering Pierce’s trajectory.

Haslem’s actions are a clear foul in the NBA, yet the referees failed to make the call. The NBA’s philosophy seems to be to allow the players, not the officials, decide the outcome of the game. By allowing the zebras to swallow their whistles in the most critical moments, the refs actually alter the course of the game much more than if they called it uniformly. In this case allowing for such rough play directly led to Pierce lying prone off the floor. Had the refs made the correct decision and called the foul at the proper moment, Pierce doesn’t end up on the sidelines and Garnett doesn’t throw a frustrated elbow at Richardson.

Physical contact is a part of the game, and getting a foul called on the opponent vindicates the players’ action and allows for them to, for lack of a better term, vent some steam. You can see this by viewing how angry some players get when they feel they were fouled and no call was made. The league did the proper thing by suspending Garnett, but they still have some unfinished business. Referees should be blind to regards of score, location, player, or time. Games should be officiated using the same criteria whether it be the first minute or the last.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

12 thoughts to “Refs Partly To Blame For Garnett Suspension”

  1. There’s a lot of things about NBA refereeing I despise (rooikies not getting calls and superstars getting favorable treatment among them), but I think there’s a kind of unwritten rule to allow the playoffs to get more physical across the board. Not that I agree with altering the officiating from the regular season to the playoffs, but the game is different and you can even see it on the scoreboard.

    I think the debate is really about whether things should be allowed to get more physical in the playoffs.

    This whole issue is why some people believe there’s a premium on defense when it comes to winning championships (even though you obviously need both good offense and defense regardless). The tougher physical play can take away some of the offensive strategies that work well in the regular season.

  2. I think Mike’s point is that this goes beyond the letting “touch” fouls go. Of course how does that explain the Miami – Dallas series in particular every 4th quarter. :-)

  3. The refs may be partially to blame, but I think most of the blame for any altercation in a Celtics game starts with the fact that they never stop the trash talking and in your face crap. There’s a reason they lead the league in techs every year. Now of course we all know Q can be a real moron too, and loves to instigate with Boston, but he may have a point in yelling at Pierce to get up. As one writer today pointed out, Pierce has a recurring habit of going down in agony and then returning moments later miraculously recovered (maybe he was an Italian soccer player in a previous life?) In fact, in game 1 of the 2008 finals he was carted off the court in a wheelchair and returned to excel in the 4th quarter.

  4. More bad news… in two parts.

    Not totally shocking, but ESPN reports Blazers are close to a 2-year extension for Marcus Camby. The pool of impact free agents is shrinking.

    Worse, the reported price is more than $20 million for two years. Combine with Ginobili’s 3-year, $39 million deal – and the higher-than-(some) predicted cap – this is looking like a market where teams will have to pay up or overpay. No bargains.

    For teams like the Knicks, it seriously hurts the Plan B options… Joe Johnson won’t be coming anywhere for less than the max… same for Stoudemire… even Boozer has a shot. Someone will probably throw at least $12-13 million at Lee, although I don’t see him getting a total offer more than $65 or $70 million – which the knicks could match with a lower starting offer and big raises, if Lee is willing to play along.

  5. Caleb –

    I agree the FA pool shrinks w/ the Camby signing and that we probably should expect little/no bargains this summer.

    I think the only distinction is that the Spurs and Blazers are over the cap this summer and for the duration of Manu’s and Camby’s new contracts (tell me if I’m wrong) anyway so it doesn’t really hurt them to pay these guys more than other team would. Whereas signing Johnson, Boozer, and Amare to max contracts – in a way – could be far more dangerous to a team’s cap situation.

  6. Hey don’t sweat the free agent signings, we can always rebuild the old fashioned way: by selecting quality assests in the draft lottery….oh um yeah that’s right, we won’t be doing that this year, Well I am hearing some nice buzz about the Lithuanian big man project Ivan Kantskore and first team all-Sengal point guard sensation D’gen Erative-Neekondishun.

  7. D’gen Erative-Neekondishun? At least you will have nice fodder for your yearly anagram post.

  8. It’s a little surprising in that Portland already has Oden and Przybilla. And Aldridge. I think it’s a good move for Portland given that they are capped out and that Paul Allen’s cash is basically unlimited. It would be a little surprising to me if Camby signs in a situation where he could be the odd man out, though, I guess the money is right and at his age he probably doesn’t want to play 40 mpg. Will be interesting to see what this means for Portland’s other bigs, especially Przybilla. He can opt out–a little unconventional coming off an injury–or maybe they’ll trade him if he doesn’t. Not really a likely fit for D’Antoni.

  9. I think you are confusing Ivan Kantskore with Ivan Kankrsore

    I read something today that Przybilla’s injury might end his career. Hadn’t seen that before, so don’t know if there’s any truth. Camby might be the best player of those 4 – well, maybe not Oden, if he can ever stay on the court. But aside from Aldridge Camby is the only one who can stay upright so I think he’d be ok. It would be interesting – no obvious trade candidate of the 4. Oden would be the closest thing… what would they be looking for? Oden + Miller for Chris Paul?

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