Three NBA Referees Refuse to Acknowledge Darren Collison’s Last-Second Foul on Stephen Jackson’s Shot Attempt in the Indiana Pacers 104-103 Win Over the Bobcats.
Seldom does a professional game come down to one single call by the referees, and never have I seen a more obvious instance of the referees influence on the outcome of a game than during Charlotte’s visit to Indiana on Wednesday night. The NBA officials sent a message to Stephen Jackson and erased the Bobcats comeback efforts in the fourth quarter when they decided to look the other way, shirk their responsibilities, and leave the floor without reviewing the final seconds of the contest. It was clear that Pacers guard Darren Collison made contact with Jackson’s arm as he attempted a long-range shot to win the game. Although one official was quick to blow an “inadvertent whistle” earlier in the 4th, no member of the officiating crew was willing to exert enough lung power to call this obvious foul on the player with the ball in the closing seconds.
Stephen Jackson has gotten a load of crap from the local writers about being too preoccupied with the officiating. The Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler had written a particularly silly piece about Jackson’s paranoia – only to be proven wrong by the officials clear dismissal of the foul that would have determined the outcome of the game (which also has Playoff position implications). Fowler’s article opens with “Grow Up, Stephen Jackson… The world is not out to get you.” With that storyline running, the Pacers game felt a lot like the WWE, actually.
Like most wrestling bad guys, “heels” as they call ’em, Jack is known to blow up at the officials but he’s a hell of a player that can’t be overlooked. The fans know his character, and they expect to see him called for a technical foul or break the rules in someway. After Jackson’s tirade and ejection from the Boston game, the local media framed a tale in which the fans could turn on Jackson for his impulsive and argumentative nature. The basic logic of the argument against Jack is that he should not question the authority, because the authority is not to be questioned (of course, they would never fix a game or make preferential calls). The big flaw in this setup is that the NBA officials are out to get Stephen Jackson. Maybe not every one of them is after Jack, but it’s clear the majority of the refs would never give Jackson the kind of calls that they would give equally high-performing shooting guards in the league.
Would Paul Pierce have gotten the foul call against the Pacers? Would Dwyane Wade have gotten that call? Would Joe Johnson have gotten that call?
We all know that just about any other guy in the league would have gotten the foul call, and received free throws to close that game. The problem isn’t so much that the Bobcats were screwed against the Pacers, it’s that Stephen Jackson was screwed under the lights, in plain sight and the team just has to live with it.
After the game, Stephen Jackson said very little about the call, “I’ll let you look at it.”
Now under the story patterns of the WWE, this is when Jackson can undergo the “face turn” – making the once hated heel into the “babyface” good guy. It’s clear that he’s playing against the refs every night. He can step up and win games for the Bobcats despite the officials’ disrespect of him or he can focus on that disrespect and let it consume him. I think most wrestling fans would enjoy that he do both (win the title belt, and hit the ref with a chair). In the NBA, it seems that he’s only got one path available. Jackson will never win the respect or adoration that the refs have for Lebron, Kobe, or Wade. But, he can fight through the officiating and to win some games.
Quick Game Notes
The Bobcats got out to a quick 8-0 lead, but then handed the momentum to the Pacers who ran off 11 points and held the lead until the final period. For most of the game, Charlotte seemed to be in 2nd gear and waiting for the last 10 minutes to step it up. The Cats showed much more energy in the 4th and pulled within a score. Then, an “inadvertent” whistle punished the Bobcats for great defense (trapping Danny Granger in the corner) and the Pacers countered with four points in a single trip down court. The “inadvertent whistle” didn’t seem so much like an intentional call to assist Granger, just a really big, obvious error by the official. You could have felt sympathetic for such a screw up, had the last seconds of the game not been such an outright slap in the face to the rules of basketball. Still, the apparent injustice may have fueled the Bobcats as they continued to fight, closing on the Pacers until the final possession.
Gerald Wallace played strong throughout the game, and it was great to see Gerald Henderson showing assertiveness.
DJ Augustin is really showing moments of leadership on the floor. His time with Larry Brown had to end, but I think he’ll have gained something from it. I’m glad to see his new presence and improved performance. D.J. 2.0 is for real.
Eduardo Najera got serious minutes down the stretch, with the absence of Kwame Brown. Eddie hit a big three and hustled for crucial rebounds and smart defense. Najera has really seized the opportunity to contribute, and it’s nice for the Cats to have a veteran like this on the roster.
While Stephen Jackson was the team’s high scorer, he looked horrible until crunch time – where he was as clutch as usual.
POLL : Foul On S. Jackson Against Pacers Total Voters: 52
POLL : Foul On S. Jackson Against Pacers
Total Voters: 52