Fri Jun 11 10:00am EDT
Being an NBA referee is a hard and thankless job. For three hours a night they get yelled at by thousands of fans, 30 players and two coaches who are all convinced that the ref holds a personal vendetta against each and every one of them. The best they can hope for is that they do their job perfectly, because then nobody will notice them. If they screw up? No bueno. As baseball umpire Jim Joyce can vouch for, when an official makes a mistake, they become a national story, and not in a good way.
And all that is without the threat of getting punched in the face for no good reason. Throw that possibility in the mix and it's hard to see why anybody would want to officiate NBA basketball. Eddie F. Rush knows what I'm talking about.
Obviously Pierce didn't actually mean to ring Rush's bell (and he immediately realized his mistake), but sometimes when you make a layup in the NBA Finals you have to randomly throw air punches. If they happen to be in the vicinity of someone's face, so be it. Paul Pierce isn't going to stop flinging his arms about just because a head is in the way. That's not how he was raised.
Then again, maybe Pierce was just trying to get a little revenge for that time when Rush ejected Kendrick Perkins with two technical fouls, and he thought he could surreptitiously slip in a little face-punching. We're on to you, Paul Pierce.