Blog Entry

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

Posted on: May 9, 2009 9:13 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2009 1:52 am
There is no way to sugar-coat this. When you have a playoff game decided with an officiating controversy at the end, it's bad enough for the NBA. When it happens in Dallas, with Mark Cuban sitting courtside, it has Armageddon-like qualities.

Cuban dutifully updated his Twitter feed moments ago with this: "There is absolutely nothing to say after that." But I expect that's not the last we hear from him.

As if the league's controversy over what constitutes a flagrant foul and what doesn't has not been enough of a distraction, now we have this: the Mavs' Antoine Wright trying to foul Carmelo Anthony behind the 3-point line with the clock winding down, and no whistle. Denver was trailing 105-103 in the final 10 seconds when Wright appeared determined to foul Anthony, who was dribbling outside the arc. Strangely, Wright reached for the ball as Anthony picked up his dribble, then raised his hands in the air as if to indicate that he didn't foul him. If he was trying to foul -- Dallas had one to give -- that was an odd way of executing the play. As a side note, Anthony appeared on the replay to lower his shoulder and initiate contact with Wright on the play before shooting -- and making -- the deciding 3-pointer.

UPDATE: Which is why it was baffling -- positively baffling -- to receive a statement from the NBA asserting that the officials missed the intentional foul attempt by Wright. I am telling you, I was flabbergasted by this. I had dinner with another experienced NBA journalist in Houston Saturday night, and we couldn't believe this statement was issued. Not because it's foolish for the NBA to admit mistakes. No. Oh, no. Because neither one of us saw a mistake so obvious, so cut and dried, that it warranted a statement within a couple of hours after the game. Or any statement at all.

This is weird. Very weird. I stand by my analysis of the call, even though despite the NBA's best efforts -- and I honestly believe their intentions are to achieve the highest levels of accuracy and transparency -- I think the officials got this right on the floor and the league got it wrong in the email.

The key question is one that I haven't seen answered. And I offer this caveat: I didn't see the game live, only the replays. But the play in question came out of a timeout. And if a team intends to use a foul to give in that situation, the correct procedure -- or the smart procedure -- is for the coach or a player to inform the referees that they plan to commit an intentional foul. Did anyone do this? If so, the Mavs have a case. But even considering all that, and assuming that communication occurred, I stand by my analysis of the play. Wright did not commit the foul soon enough or in an obvious way. Not only that, but he seemed unsure of what he was supposed to be doing. He couldn't have made this any clearer than he did when he pulled up and raised his arms in the universal basketball gesture that means, "I didn't foul." 

Cuban was furious. He always seems to be at the center of an officiating controversy in the postseason, going all the way back to the 2006 Finals against Miami. There will be a solid 48 hours of comments, opinions, and accusations leading into Game 4 Monday in Dallas. (Good thing I'm going. I have displayed an uncanny knack for following the controversy this postseason.) But if you ask me, if Wright wanted to foul, he should've fouled quick and hard, before Anthony made his move and went into his shooting motion. It appeared that Wright was caught between giving the foul and putting Anthony at the line for three game-winning free throws -- or worse, fouling him in the act of shooting and creating the opportunity for a four-point play.

Maybe I'm wrong. I'll keep watching Cuban's Twitter feed, where I'm certain he'll set me straight. 

Since: Dec 15, 2006
Posted on: May 13, 2009 12:31 pm

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

Wright fouled Carmelo - no one disputes it was a clear foul....he then put his arms up to make sure the ref understood the foul occurred prior to any shooting motion......pretty simple strategy...only the ref blew the call....series should now be tied 2-2....

Since: Nov 23, 2008
Posted on: May 13, 2009 1:30 am

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

You cant overfoul in that spot, the game had already set a record for whistles including several Tech and flagrants. You foul too hard and you get a quick Flagrant call.

Knowledgable basketball men know this, keep on this site ..youll learn alot, until then maybe avoid posting and exposing your lack of hoop smarts. Good luck pal

Since: Nov 23, 2008
Posted on: May 13, 2009 1:25 am

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

I think that thin air is at it again in Denver, You dont over-foul and get a flagrant call in a game that had already set a playoff record for whistles blown. I have to explain this like when my mom asks" why'd he do that" Oh yeah, tatoos dont make you tough unless they are huge red lips tattoo'd on your neck.Cuban is gonna slap Mama Martin with some white bread and see how soft it is. No class organization Denver, thats why the Nuggets never have been respected.

Since: Apr 26, 2009
Posted on: May 11, 2009 7:39 pm

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

All I have to add is if you are up by 4 with 30 seconds left and have the ball in your possession YOU WIN THE GAME!  Poor play and coaching lost the game for the Mavericks not the officiating.

Since: Sep 15, 2007
Posted on: May 11, 2009 7:27 pm

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

Berger -

I have a question (Dont know if you will answer though)

First you say this

As if the league's controversy over what constitutes a flagrant foul and what doesn't has not been enough of a distraction, now we have this:Then you rip Wright for his actions of throwing his hands in the air? He already tried to foul once. Then tried again. Who's to say that Wright didnt have that on his mind? Hey - it is Carmelo. He's a Superstar. And there was already controversy in game 1 regarding Kenyon's foul on Dirk. Add in all the crazy fouls in the Lakers - Rockets series. Do you think it could be possible he didnt want the ref to assume after the first push, that he was not trying to intentionally foul there?

Either way... The Mavs had this game in hand if they take care of buisness down the stretch. Then this would have never been an issue. If they have someone to blame here its themselves.

Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: May 11, 2009 10:07 am

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

This is just one instance of the problems with officiating in the NBA. Not so much that this call was not made, but that the lack of a call at that time was extremely inconsistent with how the game had been officiated. And its not only this game, it has been all of the NBA games I have watched this postseason.
This makes it extremely difficult for someone to enjoy watching the NBA. Officials are extremely biased and inconsistent. You can see plays in the first quarter and then in the second half and see the stark differences in what constitutes a foul. And this depends a lot, way too much so, on the player either being fouled or committing it. Especially if the player committing the foul is a high profile player (PIERCE, LeBron, Kobe, Ray Allen, etc) and already has a few on him. The refs know this and therefore treat that player differently than they treat a young player in the league.

How can the league and the officiating body allow this to continue? It is so obvious to those of us using TiVO, and they supposedly review every game just to evaluate the refs, yet they ignore it as they likely feel it would tarnish the entire officiating organization to admit they have problems that need to be dealt with.

Until these officials change their ways, something that being fined game checks or the like could help resolve, then the NBA will have trouble recruiting and keeping a loyal fan base. I’ll stick to the NCAAs where the games are decided by the players!



Since: May 10, 2009
Posted on: May 10, 2009 9:20 pm

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

He fouled him then backed off so that Melo couldn't quickly throw one up and it would be a shooting foul.
61 fouls and they miss this one, the league admitted they screwed up but yet this writer is still hard headed enough to stick by his original analysis.
Better to be wrong and consistant than be right and eat a little crow, nice.

Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: May 10, 2009 5:16 pm

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

Foul or no foul the Mavericks have only themselves to blame for this loss. Missed free throws, their superstar missing all five shots in the last five minutes, and their awful defense around the basketball let Denver back into the game and no one can blame the Nuggets for taking advatage of the opportunity Dallas absolutely laid in their laps.

Since: Mar 28, 2008
Posted on: May 10, 2009 11:16 am

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

For everyone saying that Wright did not foul Anthony, the NBA released a statement saying that Wright DID in fact commit the foul, and that the refs just missed it. If they went back and reviewed every play in a basketball game then they could find probably 150 fouls. Thing is it wasn't really obvious and at the end of games refs usually let teams play more and since Wright quickly put his hands up the refs didn't what they thought was a ticky-tack call. The only reason the statement was issued was to satisfy Cuban and maybe shut him up.

Since: Sep 23, 2006
Posted on: May 10, 2009 8:21 am

Foul? What foul? (UPDATE)

Cuban should be getting pi$$y at his team for being 3-0 down in a playoff series rather than be pi$$y with the call

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