Anyone who has followed the NBA knows that it is home to conspiracy theories. Like the Knicks mysteriously getting the #1 pick in 1985 draft to obtain Patrick Ewing, despite having the smallest chance to obtain that lottery pick. Or the phantom foul called on Scottie Pippen in the 1994 against the Knicks, the first year after MJ left, basically handing victory to the Knicks. Others accuse the league of moving the three point line forward in 1994-1997 to help the poor shooting Knicks advance in the playoffs. Others point to the 27 free throws awarded to the Lakers in the 4th quarter alone in the game 6 against Sacto in 2002. Or that league officials have been instructed to call fouls more strictly on Shaq because otherwise his combination of size, speed, and power would make him unstoppable and the Lakers/Heat/whoever would win every year. Others suggest expanding the no-charge box on defense is meant to help “exciting” teams like Suns and Mavericks, who run, or one-on-one stars like Kobe, McGrady, and Iverson.
Now these are conspiracies for a reason: there is absolutely no proof that these or others exist as any sort of deliberate action. And like any other sport, officiating can be subject to human error and limitations (such as being screened by players from seeing a foul). League rule changes, are similarly given the benefit of the doubt of being intended to benefit the league, not any particular teams. But here’s what I see as the latest conspiracy: New Orleans is a great story for the All-Star game, but too small of a market to compete in the NBA finals. (Just think how much already we’re being told to expect a Lakers/Celtics finals, or how much hype has centered around Kobe potentially going to Chicago or Lebron going to the big apple because he’s friends with Jay-Z. Conspiracies usually favor large market teams.) As such, it is my belief, after analyzing this season’s games, that the NBA officials have been instructed to make things hard for the Hornets.
Ordinarily, I am inclined to believe in my own bias, and those of any one else in the Arena, in that we will boo any foul against us or any perceived slight not called a foul. However, after the game versus the Wizards, I was apalled. The refereeing was horrible. I even watched the replay today on CST, to check my initial instincts and utilize instant replays and was again appalled.
Let me give you the bare bones highlights. Hornets fans feel free to comment here with your own. The technical foul in the final quarter against Tyson? There was NOTHING going on. They showed the replay several times. Two guys going for the ball, Tyson gets a personal, fine. (You could have let it go too, but anyway.) Then the guy shoots and makes the free throw, Tyson goes to take the ball out of bounds, and there is a phantom technical called. No apparent comments being made, Tyson’s not looking or calling to the ref. It just came out of nowhere. How about the so-called charge on David West with 35.7 seconds remaining and the Bees up by 1? Insane. David did NOT lower his shoulder AND the defender’s feet were moving . Are you kidding me? It should have been a block, sending D-West to the line . Do these refs not realize the game is on the line and they’re blowing these kinds of calls? I would say it’s inexcusable, but with the scrutiny these guys (and 1 lady) are forced to endure, that seems unlikely. So dare I say it, it must be intentional. Lastly, the foul on Hilton that gave the game away. Here we are again, with a player barrelling out of control toward the bucket who is rewarded for jumping into a player. Refs are usually smart enough to make a no call in this situation. Unfortunately, Hilton had the audacity to make a good play, jumping back, leaning over, and swatting the ball away. He should have just let DS (he deserves no name) miss the shot without the block. But with a block, refs felt they needed to employ Stern order #147 and the fall was called. DS jumped INTO Hilton, I don’t buy a foul there. Should have been a no call.
My whole problem I’ve seen this year is that David Stern’s shock troops have been inconsistent in Hornets games. Refs will call games tight or loose, and usually call it the same way on both teams. That’s fine. But when you call tight on one team and loose on the other, it is bullshit. I’ve seen it a lot and I’m sick of it. I for one, hope Byron Scott and the coaching staff send a tape of this game to the league for review. Someone should be censured for this.
That is, unless there is a conspiracy to stop the Hornets.