The NBA should bench the Spurs-Thunder refs for the remainder of the playoffs
You’re not supposed to know the referees’ names.
That’s information that only comes to light when something goes wrong.
It’s fair to say that something went wrong in Monday night’s Western Conference Semifinals game between the Spurs and Thunder. The calamity that was the final 13.5 seconds of Game 2 has been scrutinized like the Zapruder film in the hours since the final buzzer, and upon further review, those final moments included as many as 10 missed calls, including a paradoxical offensive foul on an inbounder.
We don’t need the two-minute report to know that the referees failed.
And because of that, Ken Mauer, Sean Corbin, and Marc Davis shouldn’t referee another game this postseason.
It’s not that the three aren’t good referees — they have good reputations, and NBA officiating has, on the whole, improved significantly in the last few years, but the trio so elaborately botched the final seconds of Game 2 that there’s no way they can be taken seriously for the rest of the playoffs.
It’s going to take a while to get this stink off.
The end of game inbound foul in #OKCvsSAS was one we've never seen before & we missed it. We'll incorporate this in training moving forward.
— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) May 3, 2016
The NBA deals with allegations of rigged games more so than any other major North American professional sport, a natural byproduct of overzealous fans that are quick to invoke the Tim Donaghy scandal when a critical call goes a way they didn’t want.
Usually, the NBA can stand by their refs when there’s a questionable late-game call — being a referee is a thankless, nearly impossible job — but the league can’t stand by Mauer, Corbin, and Davis after Tuesday night’s game.
It’s one thing to miss Manu Ginobili encroaching on Dion Waiters, the inbounder.
It’s one thing to miss Waiters leaning across the sideline to give Ginobili a forearm shiver.
It’s one thing to miss Waiters illegally jumping to inbound the pass.
It’s one thing to miss Danny Green’s foul on Kevin Durant at half court, or the multiple off-ball illegal tugs and grabs before the ball was inbounded.
It’s one thing to miss Steven Adams being restrained from re-entering play by a fan courtside.
It’s one thing to miss LaMarcus Aldridge being hacked by a swarm of Thunder players upon getting a rebound under the hoop with seconds remaining.
But when all those things are stacked on top of each other and no call was made by any of the three referees on the floor, it’s gross incompetence.
There’s letting them play, then there’s allowing anarchy. The NBA can’t abide by a crew that allowed the latter, which was most certainly the case Monday.
Officiating playoff games is a privilege — assignments are only given to the best refs. This trio certainly lost their privilege with Monday’s calamitous ending.
Mayer, Corbin, and Davis are good refs, and by no means should they be blackballed by the league going forward, but the NBA can’t, in good conscience, put any of the three on the floor again these playoffs. Trust in their decision-making abilities have been compromised, and it would be foolhardy for the NBA to compromise their product.