Leagues tend to not have the best relationships with their officials. Who could forget the replacement refs that the NFL had to deal with in 2012? While the NBA tends to seemingly be ahead of the NFL in some departments, it still suffers some of the same problems. Namely, its relationship with officials can be strained at times.
One of the primary causes of that strain is the Last Two Minute, or L2M, report. The report was debuted in March 2015, for the sake of "transparency." The problems with this are two-fold. For starters, it doesn't change anything. Game results aren't going to be changed for any reason, even if a mistake was somehow made at the buzzer. Secondly, it just casts a false sense of doubt on late-game calls -- calls that can incorrectly be attributed to a team ultimately winning or losing.
Players have spoken out against the L2M report before. Draymond Green said they "make no sense" in December, because you can't replay portions of games. NBA officials concurred with the assessment, calling them "pointless."
Our own internal disagreement about whether each play was a foul highlights something else - the way the #L2M reports unnecessarily, and incorrectly in some cases, amplify an arbitrary moment in a game. We agree with this, on the L2M being "pointless": https://t.co/rTIuDjBeFy— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) December 29, 2017
L2M reports are back in the headlines once again, after a tweet came down saying that officials couldn't count to five -- which has been a point of contention in itself several times this season.
NBA: Refs again couldn't count to 5, call also blown on crucial Heat 24-second violation. https://t.co/7RAdJu43sd— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) March 15, 2018
The officials responded to the tweet, saying that L2M reports do nothing but lead to media questioning how games are called down the stretch. Bear in mind, the officials will comment on anything related to reports in this way.
A fundamental flaw with the L2M leads to this sort of media reaction. The 5-second violation should not have been an INC - our stopwatch has it within a couple tenths of a second. To expect a human to be as exact as a stopwatch is unreasonable. The referee followed protocol. https://t.co/EVAFKAJyfy— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) March 15, 2018
This was followed with the response that no one expects referees to be as accurate as stopwatches (although this isn't entirely true). The request was that five-second calls be electronically timed, much like other calls in their ilk.
No one does. But the NBA issues a report and we report on the report. Question: Why can't that be electronically timed just as 24- and 8-second violations are? No two humans will ever count to five at the same time, nor can that be expected. https://t.co/XKkLOTC80F— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) March 15, 2018
The officials then diverted the conversation, saying that they weren't arguing with the media, but with L2M reports themselves.
Our issues are not with the media, but with the L2M. It is a flawed process where analysts without officiating experience are using different protocols to evaluate plays than the referees are taught. It breeds inconsistency and frustration for fans, teams, and referees. https://t.co/blAJ2bvWbe— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) March 15, 2018
Then things got really good. The NBA came in and refuted the officials' claim that those evaluating the calls weren't professionals, saying that those reviewing the calls were rating them under the same criteria as officials.
This is not accurate; all calls in L2Ms are evaluated by reviewers trained to rate plays the way officials are instructed to call them; their decisions are approved by ref ops senior staff (former officials) and senior b-ball ops personnel, all with many years of NBA experience https://t.co/KVDXrfDBrm— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) March 16, 2018
NBA officials went suspiciously quiet after that, but known pot-stirrer Mark Cuban had two words for the NBA.
Fine 'em https://t.co/RVkwXRViIR— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) March 16, 2018
That's such a delightfully vague, simplistic response to a pretty complex issue. Cuban is the annoying sibling that comes in while mom and dad are fighting and goes "yeah!"
This is one case where the players and officials seem to be in agreement. The NBA said in December that fouls were missed in the Christmas Day game between the Warriors and Cavaliers on Kevin Durant while guarding LeBron James, a year after Durant called the reports "bullshit" for an L2M report that said fouls were missed on the previous Christmas Day game.
It's not like everything is rosy between the two sides. There's been tension between players and officials for some time now, with the two sides going as far as having a meeting in February -- that stars didn't show up to.
It's been a bit of a mess, and the NBA has remained quiet, except to defend itself. Now that one of its owners is speaking out, even in such petty ways, it may be a bit of a rallying cry. Things certainly feel like they're coming to a head. The current CBA between officials and the NBA runs through 2022. If players continue to speak out, we may see it amended before then.