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Fan’s view: Zebras hand Bulls victory over Miami Heat
It took me nearly 24 hours before I could even begin to think about writing an article about the Miami Heat's 103-82 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, May 15 to the Chicago Bulls.
That's because I was so incensed about the game I probably would've thrown my laptop up against the wall just trying to get out the first few sentences.
However, I wasn't angry at the Heat players or their coaches, or even so much at the Bulls players and their coaching staff as I was at the officials; who all but handed the game to Chicago in what I believe was one of the greatest robberies in sports I've ever witnessed.
Now, I know Bulls fans will comment on this story in droves saying I'm nothing but a whining fool for believing that, and I'm more than prepared to simply ignore every one of them. However, someone has to say this; especially in light of the media pretending the Chicago win was because of "smothering" defense as they seem to be putting it.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports—a long-time hater of the Miami Heat and LeBron James—is having a party with the whole idea, as he lays out in his Bulls-worship piece every thought he has that the Heat went down in defeat because the Bulls planned it all that way.
I would say I've never in my life seen such horrid officiating if it weren't false. The fact is I have seen a team robbed just as badly in an NBA playoff game, and ironically it involved another Florida franchise and these same Chicago Bulls.
That game actually had me believing for a few years the NBA was no more on the up-and-up than professional wrestling, and I still have that seed of a thought in my head today. However, as the title of the article reads, I've lived with it.
However, if I continue to see the kind of egregiously bad officiating I witnessed in Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, I'm not sure I will be able to continue to do that.
I watched as Chicago literally got away with throwing Miami players to the ground without an official blowing their whistle, and had to suffer through the moronic announcers ignoring such stuff completely and instead praising the Bulls for their unbelievable defense and rebounding.
One such incident was an offensive rebound and putback of a Kyle Korver missed three-point attempt with 2:57 left in the second period by Joakim Noah, which should have been negated and a foul called on Boozer, who had shoved Joel Anthony so hard with his right elbow he literally knocked him to the floor.
Did the refs call a foul on the play? Nope. Did the announcers opine on how the Bulls had gotten away with one there? Nope. Instead, they simply ignored it as if it hadn't even happened; even when they almost immediately went to an overhead replay of the whole thing that made it so visible to anyone watching that to claim you didn't see it would be to admit you're legally blind.
And that wasn't just an isolated play. The block by Taj Gibson of a LeBron James layup attempt with 2:11 left in the third quarter and the Heat only down by six, 67-61 was not only a foul on Gibson, he committed three of them on the play. That's right, three fouls on one driving layup attempt, and he doesn't get called for a single one.
Again, that is hardly the end of it. There were literally dozens upon dozens of non-calls in the second, third and fourth quarters, while the Heat were being called for ticky-tack touch fouls such as Chris Bosh being called for a foul when he literally barely touched the back of Omer Asik who'd just dunked the ball with 8:33 left in the second period.
I know Bulls fans will dismiss all this, but the one good thing that's changed since that 1996 Eastern Conference Finals series between Chicago and Orlando is we now have digital television in high-definition, with DVRs. I have the entire game taped, and have reviewed it several times, and I can authoritatively state the Bulls should have been called for—at minimum—35 fouls in the game.
The fact, though, is they were only called for 13 fouls, and that is why Game 1 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, in my view, was the Great Chicago Referee Robbery.
I don't know if the NBA is fixed. I don't know if Miami is being purposely robbed to prevent them from getting to the NBA Finals and serve the "wonderful" storyline David Stern and most in the media are falling down over themselves trying to maintain about the Bulls.
There's a good chance, as Greg Cote of the Miami Herald puts it, we can Expect Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to Bounce Back, and I'll be looking forward to it. I'm not ready to give up hope the Heat can still come through this and give Miami fans what they've desired all year.
However, if they are to have any chance at it, they'll certainly need the rest of the games against Chicago to be more fairly officiated. Whether those officials swallowed their whistles simply because they were so enamored with the Bulls that day, or because there's some nefarious plot to send Chicago to the Finals, I'll probably never know.
Regardless of that, the fact remains in my view Miami was robbed.
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All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Basketball-Reference.com and Yahoo! Sports.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports .
*Daniel Barber has been a fan of all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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