February 06, 2009
The game Thursday night, between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, ended, fittingly, in mild controversy, with the Celtics thinking Ray Allen had been fouled by Derek Fisher on the final shot. This is, of course, something like the 39,453d NBA game to end with one team in an apoplectic state over a last-second officiating judgment. That's the NBA, and it's never going to change. Officials are human, and, at this exalted level, it is a very difficult game to adjudicate, wrote Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
Even the best officials get it wrong. The question emanating from this game, however, was this: What were these three men doing working a game of this magnitude? On a February Thursday night when there are only three games on the schedule, someone in power thinks that Monty McCutchen, Jim Capers Jr., and Leon Wood should be working what was, in the minds of many, the biggest game of the 2008-09 regular season? Really? Were all the real officials on vacation? Not acceptable. No game of this scope should be placed in the hands of third-tier officials. There were going to be legitimately unhappy people, no matter who won this horribly mismanaged game that left both sides confused as to what was, and what wasn't, a foul right from the opening tap.
You just can't have a great game without quality officiating, and this was far from a great game, as Phil Jackson readily conceded.
"Neither of our teams played up to the capabilities that we are able to play, but we outlasted them," he said. "But that's about it."
In the end, it was just one night in the Big 82, and we'd have to guess it didn't mean any more to the league office than if it were Thunder at Wizards. Someone picked the names of the three officials out of a hat. There's no other explanation.