It is commonly believed that NBA referees provide make-up calls when they realize that they have made a mistake during a previous play. The idea is that, in a sport that has proven very difficult to officiate, a ref can admit when a foul has been called in error or an out-of-bounds decision has been issued incorrectly. At the same time, no one actually acknowledges the make-up call as such — it's just an implicit correction.
Referee Courtney Kirkland apparently does not believe in apologizing for bad calls with more bad calls. In fact, he's willing to admit his mistakes right out in the open. In the final minute of the first half of Monday night's game between the Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans, Kirkland whistled Nets point guard Deron Williams for a foul on Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans. Unfortunately, the call was late and didn't seem based on much contact. So Kirkland did something remarkable — he just told Williams he was wrong.
Of course, a verbal apology doesn't really change the fact that Evans got to shoot free throws, although he made just one of the pair. That result proved extra problematic given the game's result. The Pelicans won 109-104 ... in overtime, which suggests that one point might have made a big difference.
But everyone makes mistakes, so maybe we should focus instead on how we choose to take responsibility for them. In that area, Kirkland comes out ahead.
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