Monday, June 19, 2006

Tainted Game 5

I can't recall a game in recent memory that seems to be as tainted as last night's Game 5 (which is a shame, because it somehow has eclipsed Dwyane Wade turning into...well, something really, really good.) You have Stack's questionable suspension heading into the game, then tack on the alleged phantom foul on Dirk allowing Wade to sink the game winning free throws, plus Josh Howard calling the worst time out since Chris Webber. And what about Cubes shooting David Stern death stares? Or Nowitzki's mini-tantrum heading back to the locker room.

That's alotta freakin' stuff. There's been tainted games before, but this is like a handful of reasons. All we needed was a Russian judge awarding the Mavs a second chance at the game winner. So let's get to the bottom of it.

First of all, Dirk's "foul." Clearly, after the replay, there wasn't a foul there. But in the ref's defense, the first time you see that play, it really looks like a foul. Dirk swings his arm down at Wade, plus he was driving wildly through basically the entire team...all signs point to a foul. When refs are taught how to calls fouls, they are taught to look for the arm swinging down. That gets called all the time. If you wanna get called for a foul, swing your arm down like that. Unless you come away cleanly with the ball, you're getting rung up. That's just the way it works.

The most egregious part of the whole thing is ESPN's analysts after the game. Every single one of them was dead wrong. They went right down the line - Legler, Anthony and Pippen, all three of them - and said Wade "earned" that call by going to the basket hard all game. How stupid is that? I'll tell you how stupid: they made Stu Scott look like the smartest guy at the table.

You don't "earn" a call by previous actions. Its impossible, and that logic is infuriating. Either it was a foul or not. The refs didn't "get into a rhythm" of calling fouls. Previous outside circumstances are irrelevant.

Number 3 got that call for two reasons, and two reasons only. Dirk swung his arm down and it says "WADE" above that 3 on the back of his jersey. If Antione Walker had been relentlessly attacking the basket all night, he wouldn't have gotten that call. There's a short list of players who get that call, and Wade is either at or near the top of it. Case closed.

So the Mavs didn't get screwed there...but they did get screwed when the refs awarded them tht timeout. Clearly, the Mavs didn't want it. That was obvious from the get-go. Here's what the refs said after the game, via a "statement:"

"Josh Howard goes to Joe DeRosa and not only once but twice asks for a timeout. Forced to call it. Simple as that."
Um...that never happened. Howard never talked to anyone, espcailly not a ref. All he did was make the time out sign towards his coach. The refs blew it, and they lied to cover it up. Classy.

And say he did ask for it. Why could't he just change his mind? How about when a guy dives out-of-bounds to save a ball, calls a timeout, but the ref says he was out before he called it. That guy is never forced to then take that timeout. And that happens like once a game. So maybe in the biggest game of the entire flippin' series, the refs could have used a little common sense. Apparently the ESPN crew wasn't using theirs, they probably could have borrowed it.

As for Cuban...that was a little much, no? Don't get me wrong, I like Cuban...but he seems to be kind of a dork to me. He just doesn't quite get it. Tough to put into words...I dunno. That was just a little lame. Like a little kid who didn't get his way, so he pouted. Go write a blog. Go buy another team. But really Mark...don't stare at someone. Man, that was sad (but not as sad as Dirk's tantrum...I mean, Germans can get angrier than that right?)

Regardless, due to the NBA's inane 2-3-2 Finals format, the Heat are up 3-2 in a series where the only thing that matters is home court. The series ends in Dallas.

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