Not all NBA rules are strictly enforced. If they were, there'd be a lot more carrying violations called against every guard in the league. Sometimes referees miss calls, like that LeBron James in the Lakers' win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday. When that happens, opposing players try to make a big enough stink about it to get the attention of the referees, but most times their decision is unchanged.that went uncalled on
That is, apparently, unless you're resourceful like Chris Paul. During the Oklahoma City Thunder's matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, Jordan Bell checked into the game with 1.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter with the Timberwolves up 121-119. Karl-Anthony Towns was at the free throw line attempting to put the game away for Minnesota when suddenly Paul could be heard shouting to the referee "Jersey untucked! Jersey untucked! That's a delay of game!" Shortly thereafter, the referee beside Paul blew the whistle and called for a delay of game, to which the Thunder star responded "damn right."
Since that was the second delay-of-game violation for the Timberwolves that night, it resulted in a technical free throw for the Thunder. Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders was in disbelief, and unfortunately for Minnesota, that call cost them a win after Oklahoma City tied the game up with full-court hail mary pass to Dennis Schroder which he turned into a game-tying layup as time expired. The game went to overtime, where the Thunder came out on top.
After the game, Paul spoke to the media about his keen awareness of the rules that led to the decisive delay of game call. As Paul was walking towards the media members, he said unprompted, "Yeah, I told them his jersey was untucked. I know the rules."
"That happens more often than not, and sometimes refs will just be like, 'whatever,' but that is the rule," Paul said. "If you check in with your jersey untucked, it's a delay of game."
Paul also said he was aware that the Timberwolves already had a delay of game call go against them earlier in the match, so he knew exactly what the second violation would result in.
There's two sides to this, it's shocking that Scott Foster, the referee, even called the violation in a close game like this given that it is something that happens so frequently in the NBA. A player typically checks in with his jersey untucked, and tucks it in when he's on the court. On the other end, though, that is an incredibly savvy move by Paul to call attention to this in hopes that the refs would call it out. Going forward, it could be something that players look out for in close contests in hopes of getting a technical free throw to shift the balance of the game.