Blog Entry

The tree of complaint, KG, and you

Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:44 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2010 2:11 pm
For the love of Stern, can we relax about the new tech rules?
Posted by Matt Moore

In the beginning, there was complaining.

It's pretty natural, really. You're body-to-body, struggling, fighting, adrenaline rushing, and the whistle blows. You can't possibly think you did anything that could be considered a foul (especially not after how you were just elbowed at the other end of the floor!) and so you complain. It probably wasn't all that bad in the beginning, a hundred years ago.

It is now.

Then, there was the complaining about the complaining. And lost in this newest wave of outrage is the fact that there genuinely was a great deal of complaining about the complaining. Casual NBA fans? They loathe what they see when there's a whistle. Grown men, professionals, whooping and hollering, badgering officials, acting like they've just been stubbed on the toe by a whistle. Most of the time for a foul that was pretty easy to call. It reflects poorly on the game and every time it happens, a friend will point and say "that's why I don't follow the NBA." As if that were to somehow overtake the athleticism, the tactics, the chemistry, the powerful emotion of the game. But it does. It reflects poorly on the game.

So the NBA decided to do something about it, finally.

And now, finally, we've reached the zenith of this ridiculous story. There's now complaining about the rules designed to help with all the complaints about the complaining.

Welcome to the Catch-22, David Stern. Have fun trying to make people happy who cannot be made so.

Last night in a meaningless exhibition game, Jermaine O'Neal was whistled for a bad technical foul. At least, that's what it seemed like to the camera's eye, which is what everyone uses (we'll get into how that's a flawed start in a minute). It certainly didn't seem like O'Neal was worthy of a technical foul. It was a bad call, the same kind of bad call that's been made since the invention of the modern game and will be made for as long as officials are human. As Ken Berger of reported last night , it's probably an issue with both sides trying to find where the line exists.

Kevin Garnett? That was not a bad call. I understand that the paying fans at Madison Square Garden didn't come to see Garnett ejected. I get that we want players like KG to be able to play with emotion, with their passionate hearts on their sleeves. You're absolutely right that emotion is a pivotal part of the game's heart.

What Garnett was doing? What he usually does? It's not. It's intimidation at worst, and overreaction in the least, and he needed to be tossed under the new rules. Arguing the call by trying to show the foul, that's debatable. If he was calm, cool, and collected, then the first technical would have been completely wrong. Let me ask you this:

When was the last time you saw or heard of Kevin Garnett being calm, cool, and collected on a basketball court?

We have no idea what he said to the officials, and that's the biggest problems here. He could have said "Good sir! I heartily object, and though I respect your opinion, I was wondering if we might discuss the issue for a brief moment!" We don't know.  We're reacting based on microphone muted interpretations of what we see on screen, without a clue of what was actually said by these players. I'd imagine if the officials were able to come out and say what the players said to them, we might feel differently. We'd also probably feel differently about the players, and that's not something the NBA wants at all. For all the talk today about how the league is victimizing the poor players, they could just mike up everything, let the profanity be released in a transcript, and then see how those endorsement dollars come rolling in.

But, no. We side with the athlete because it's his work we appreciate. His work, being the key phrase there. These are professionals. They always want to talk about that. How they are professionals and deserve to be paid as such. That they'll switch teams because they're professionals or hold out because they are professionals or don't care about the fans because they're professionals. But they can't control themselves on the floor? We're talking most often about guys who are 25 years of age or older. Grown men, who can't control their own reactions to something they know won't change no matter what they say or do? Do you think Kendrick Perkins screaming "What?!" or Tim Duncan's eyes bulging or Kobe Bryant making faces will actually convince a referee to say "Oh, you know what? When you put it that way, you're right. You didn't foul him. I'm sorry. Let me change this call."? No. The calls won't change. It's just complaining for complaining's sake, or it's an attempt to influence the outcome by pressuring officials. And that's a serious problem.

You don't want to go down that road, and it's one that gets tread upon a lot in an NBA season. It's not an epidemic, but it's enough to want to force the players to pump the breaks. It's the same as Phil Jackson flexing his muscle in press conferences. Last night, after the first technical, Kevin Garnett had to be restrained by another teammate from coming at the official. He wasn't going to hurt him. He wasn't going to do anything but scream and yell. That's pretty obvious. But let me ask you something. If a man of KG's height, width, and intensity is charging at you screaming like a lunatic, are you going to get a little rattled? Because I would wet myself and call games however it is the big scary man wants me to. And that's not how you want NBA games called.

The final piece of this ridiculous counter-reaction to a call for responsible, mature behavior is the "robot" argument. "I want my players to play with emotion, not be robots!" As if this behavior has anything to do with the emotion of the game. The new rules don't prohibit a fist pump after a big shot down the stretch. From a defeated collapse or hitting the floor after a player knocks down a tough shot over you. It doesn't prevent the hip bumps, chest bumps, high-fives, fist-pounds, jersey-popping, or any of the other things that produce imagery we've come to love about this game. There isn't an ounce of in-game emotion that's being sapped by this rule set.

It's just a measure to force grown men to act as such. If you're capable of shrugging through that mid-March game with the zeal and intensity of a manic-depressive tree slug, you're capable of keeping perspective enough to know that the call was made on you, and whether you like it or not, it is. And it will happen again within the hour, no doubt. If you're mature enough to be paid millions of dollars for your role on a team vying for a championship, you should be mature enough to not badger and scream when something doesn't go your way.

Complaining in the NBA isn't an epidemic. It was simply something that reflected poorly on the game and needed to be corrected. The league took an initiative as such. People say that the market research the NBA is claiming is somehow fabricated, because no one's actually complaining about the complaining. Right. Just like no one wants to hear about LeBron James, as traffic on Heat posts grow to phenomenal numbers.

The NBA does things badly sometimes, like any sports league. And officials will often get calls wrong, like the call on Jermaine O'Neal last night. But in this instance, asking the players to temper their reactions isn't just reasonable, it's the right thing to do, and the game will be better for it, for casual and hardcore fans alike.

You can consider this the complaining about the complaining in response to the rule brought about because of complaining in order to limit complaining.

Since: Oct 19, 2010
Posted on: October 19, 2010 9:24 am

The tree of complaint, KG, and you

look , look , look im so tired  of  these reporters writing what they think is right and whats wrong,  half of these dues never played a lick of basketball in thier lives. so know lets gts some things straight here  so this goes out to the reporter that wrote this story, and i hope you have your eyes open as well as you did when you wrote this story. FIrst things first david stern is not about cleaning up the league that he didnt build, he is about power, and showing  the players that he is in control is the best way to show of the power. Yeah  they make millions and millions and loved by many in the world but there is also that glass ceiling in the nba were you can only reach this certain limit and many and plenty haved already reached that limit. daivid stern knows what he is  doing also it is well documented  back to the point were he didnt want the player to wear fitted caps and urban clothing, when nobodys see you  when your in the back of any staduim, no more cloths like i have a dress code. The age policy  rule, when we all know that the nba is comprised of all  non college guys that make up the bulk of money in the league, but he knew what he was doing  milking the hand few of players that he knew would generate money and then placing that rule in, when if you look in the league at  how many players have done four years in college and have had a major impact on the league  like the ones that have came stright out of high school there is no comparison. david stern is a money hungry dude and thats all to be said, lets not  speak up how he wants to  generate this over seas thing going on when i think its kind of gaffling  when you tell an ameriacan kid they have to do years of college and be a certain age but you let the  guys over seas come over at will, ricky rubio, not the age limit for the nba but was allowed to  come over play if he wanted to, but decided that the league was not all cracked up  like he thought it was, and i find that strange how  he can come over here and  go stright to playing basketball, but a  guy the same age is under the age limit.  see as a reporter your job is to report or be fired, so your the 5 or 6th reporter that has made some of the stupidest  articles that i have seen in weeks. so know here we are at the bulk of this converstaion and  you know when the head of basketball is greedy  when he has nothing better to do but boots his revenue in basketball by tryng to do something that nobody problay would of thougth of and thats trying to change the nba basketball inorder to make money!!!!!!! greed is his name i say, what man trys to make a league bounce the way he wants them to bounce and when the league didnt like what he was doing with the balls they rejected them as soon as they could, what a bumb for trying to make money of basketball and  the balls your selling and playing with are classics. so know here is the just of the convo, david stern has  tried to place this rule in between the hight of basketball getting so much negative talk becuase they cheat so much, the refs were called out by a fellow ref and sure you can say that  he is not credible but why would a guy go threw all the problems he had just to exspose the league, there were many others behind this and stern wants to cover it up and sweep it under the rug, but it always suprises me that nothing else was ever said about this event with the refs and know you give a person who doesnt even play the game more power  to do what tell me i cant do what humans do in a game hat is payed at such a high level? the ref in many years have gone threw the fire with the league and the many of superstars and the players,all the way back to johnson, couzey, pistol pete, dr. jay, willis reed,  and i can go on for days what happens in basketball is a universal thing all over the world and anyone that has ever played it know thats what goes on and how do you take something out that is just how the game is played, so to you the writer im giving you a problem for not knowing nothing and not seeing past your  10.00 hr job and making a good story to keep that job, but it makes me sick that i dont want to watch the nba becauase its fixed and here we go again with the man trying to show off his power and this is the best way for him to do it, cant control the players and so what some boyd shows emotions,thats what goes on in the game of sports, so please find something else to write about other than  what you just wrote about in this section, next thing you know david stern will say the fans cant hell at games

Since: Oct 16, 2010
Posted on: October 16, 2010 5:27 am

The tree of complaint, KG, and you

This article doesn't bother defending the heart of the issue. The reason there is so many issues with officiating is because the rules are subjective. If the NBA cared about it's product, it would not make refereeing subjective. It would try to make the rules more black and white to call. That way referees can be graded objectively, because either they made the right call or didn't. Players complaining is a manifestion of the NBA not bothering to put a proper definition of a foul.

Half the time I see some random player make the same move as Lebron and that scrub gets knocked to the ground and there is no foul call and a fast break going the other way. Lebron makes the same move and barely gets touched if even and their is a foul call. One is called good defense and the other is called bad rotation or bad position, yet there was more contact on the former than the latter.

That is the crux of the issue. The NBA has made too many rules that don't have a black or white. And now they have added to the problem through giving the refereeing more latitude to call technicals with very unclear definitions of what constitutes a technical. I don't go to watch a basketball game decided by a referee's opinion of what should be fouls and whose actions deserve a technical. That is the crux of the issue of the product. I think it's ridiculous that officials do not get graded transparently. If the NBA cared for our opinion they would provide some transparency. The NBA wants the players to improve the product by reducing their whining, but they don't want to hold their officials accountable for missing a call or making the wrong call. It's hard to hold them accountable when they don't release any information on their performance or the definition of a good call vs a bad call is subjective.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or