If you read my stuff regularly then you knew immediately at the end of the Clippers-Thunder game on Tuesday night what I’d be thinking.
You’d be 100% in that assessment too. The call that went against Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers was nothing short of horrendous. I have been an outspoken opponent of instant replay use by officials since day one and this ridiculous use of it only furthers my agenda.
With 11 seconds remaining in the game and the Clips up 104-102, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson drove to the basket down the lane where the Clippers’ Matt Barnes awaited.
Barnes reached with his left hand making contact with both Jackson and the ball but the momentum of Jackson’s hand clearly shows the ball going out of bounds under the basket off of him.
We can stop the story right here and argue about whether or not a foul should have been called or not but there was no foul call on the play by any of the three officials on the court. Should it have been called a foul? Maybe, maybe not.
How many times per game do we see calls that were made one night not get called at all the following night? Officiating in the NBA often comes down to judgment calls and these three all ruled there was no foul on the play.
Let’s face, we’ve seen far worse not get called.
Back to the out of bounds call… The officials huddled and then decided they needed to go to the replay system. One of my many arguments against using replay to confirm or overturn calls is that subjective interpretation by on court officials is involved.
The National Hockey League was the first to create a “control center” where the same people look and decide on challenges from cities throughout the league. Major League Baseball has instituted this and the National Football League will be going to this format in the fall.
Back in February, Rod Thorn of the NBA said they would have a centralized replay center in effect for the 2014-2015 season. That’s a great step in the right direction but I’m sure the LA Clippers could care less at this moment.
The officials decided that the replay was “inconclusive” and awarded the ball to Oklahoma City. Just as Doc Rivers explained in his intense post-game comments, I will not blame the loss on the officiating. The Clippers and Chris Paul in particular are to blame for poor execution and even worse decision-making.
That said, the Clippers still should have had the ball, up by two with 11 seconds remaining, but their implosion continued and the rest as they say is history.
One has to wonder what impact this loss will have the Clips. It’s been one hell of a few weeks for this team starting with the Donald Sterling stuff, a tough series with Golden State and now this.
Now down 3-2 to the Thunder, the Clippers have to have faith that they can get the job done in game six at home. Feeling sorry for themselves will accomplish absolutely nothing more than a reservation at the nearest beach resort.
The issues with instant replay aren’t going to go away however. We can only imagine if an NBA Finals game were to be decided the same way. Or what if the Clippers had been playing well at the time, would the narrative be different?
Instant replay has proven itself to be more of a problem than a solution and it’s time to go away.