Union to contest officiating crackdown

The Players Association plans to contest the NBA's efforts to curb player complaints about the league's officiating, union executive director Billy Hunter said Thursday.

“The new unilateral rule changes are an unnecessary and unwarranted overreaction on the league’s behalf," Hunter said in a statement. "We have not seen any increase in the level of 'complaining' to the officials, and we believe that players as a whole have demonstrated appropriate behavior toward the officials.

"Worse yet, to the extent the harsher treatment from the referees leads to a stifling of the players’ passion and exuberance for their work, we fear these changes may actually harm our product. The changes were made without proper consultation with the Players Association, and we intend to file an appropriate legal challenge.”

The NBA said the league's market research shows fans want to see a decrease in the on-court complaints and demonstrations by players. The NBA has instructed the league's referees to give players technical fouls for lingering too long to complain or making an overt gesture, including punching the air.

On Wednesday in New York, Boston Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal(notes) drew his second technical in two nights for moderately reacting to a referee’s foul call. Kevin Garnett(notes) was given a technical moments later for trying to show an official how a New York Knicks player had hit him, and was then ejected for laughing over the legitimacy of that technical.