This one is so obviously wrong that there's no way we can make excuses for it. Bennett Salvatore badly blew a call in Sunday night's Bulls/Hawks game, and it had nothing to do with making a wrong decision based on an iffy opinion in the heat of the moment. He had time to think about calling a three-shot foul on Atlanta's Jamal Crawford, especially after blowing his whistle and actually calling the foul, before deciding to decline his previous call and blame the whole thing on the lamest of referee excuses -- an inadvertent whistle.
I'm the guy who has spent a lifetime telling NBA fans about how hard it is to referee an NBA game, but this was bunko beyond belief. Chicago was down six with 2 1/2 minutes left in Sunday's Game 4 between the Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks when Bulls guard Derrick Rose ran an up and under move on Crawford behind the 3-point line, getting him into the air and drawing contact as he shot.
It was a cheap trick, but it worked. Salvatore raised his left arm and blew his whistle, but then thought "better" of it before running to the scorer's table and calling the whole affair an "inadvertent whistle." Salvatore let the home crowd get to him, and a jump ball was initiated that Chicago lost. Though not the fault of this bum non-call, Chicago lost the game.
Following the game, Salvatore spoke through a pool reporter, and sent this carefully worded apology out:
"An inadvertent whistle is when a referee blows a whistle and didn't mean to. That's exactly what happened. I blew my whistle and didn't mean to. I didn't think it was a foul."
Yeah, not really. You also raised your left arm as you're supposed to when you're calling a foul, while blowing the whistle. Just admit that you called a foul, thought differently soon after calling the foul, and attempted to pass it off in-game as "inadvertent." Don't look foolish in attempting to pass it off post-game as inadvertent.
Bennett went on:
"Having watched the replay after, it was a foul and I should have called it. I made a mistake."
Bulls fans need to back off, because this call wasn't the reason Chicago lost the game. If Kyle Korver and Luol Deng hit a few more open shots (as opposed to combining to shoot 27 percent from the field) this call doesn't matter. If Derrick Rose connects on a few more runners in the lane, then he probably wouldn't have even attempted a 3-pointer in that situation.
And while Salvatore was obviously swayed after making the call (which you're never supposed to do; imagine calling a batter back from first base after deciding that the fourth ball you just called should have been a strike), Bennett was also reacting to a series of non-calls (read: bad calls) that Atlanta wasn't getting on offense in the fourth quarter. There was plenty of incompetence to go around Sunday night, for either side.
All of it inadvertent, apparently.