Bugged by the zebras | Bleader

Bugged by the zebras

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The refs are different, but the calls remain the same.
Basketball will graduate to a major sport, in my opinion, when it finally develops referees with the spine to call a game the same for the home and road teams.

I'm already on the record with my disdain for the way NBA refs are reluctant to call traveling, to the point where I gave up trying to count the unenforced traveling violations in Sunday's game in Miami between the Bulls and the Heat. There seems this unwritten NBA law that, if a player is fouled and the refs don't call it, that player is allowed an extra step or two, depending on the severity of the foul. In much the same way, if a player is fouled and the ball goes out of bounds, the refs may well not call the foul, but award the ball to the team of the fouled player—an unspoken agreement whatever dunderhead was doing the color analysis on ABC tacitly acknowledged when, after Derrick Rose was fouled in the final minute, putting him on the free-throw line, the announcer said he'd rather have seen the ball awarded out of bounds to the Bulls.

In any case, trailing 94-93 in the final seconds, Rose had the opportunity to put the Bulls ahead, but missed both free throws. The Heat's LeBron James was fouled, and he missed two free throws, too, but even though the Bulls came down with the rebound, with the Heat's Dwyane Wade trying to scrape the ball free from the end line, the refs couldn't agree on the call and ordered a jump ball at center court—won by the Heat, which went on to win, 97-93.

The Bulls, for all the ways they scrapped to the very end, certainly deserved to lose this game, mostly for the way they failed to get back on defense in the first half, which allowed the Heat several easy basket on dunks (return to aggravating highlights link). Yet they also didn't show the grit, composure, and determination to overcome hostile refs in a hostile environment—an unmatched quality of the great Michael Jordan teams.

It's not just the pros, of course. The University of Illinois lost a game in Minnesota over the weekend when, in the final seconds of regulation, Meyers Leonard, retreating all the way and with his arms straight up, was called for a foul allowing a game-tying three-point play. The Illini surrendered in overtime even more tamely than the Bulls did in the final moments of their game in Miami.

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