The NBA has been the target of a lot of criticism lately as it pertains to their referees. Well before the Tim Donaghy scandal, folks assumed that the star players and teams got different treatment than the rest of the league. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were the poster children for this in the previous era and Pat Riley was on the other side of it back then.
Here’s what Riley had to say back in 1997:
”We have to beat the injustice of what comes with championship teams. It’s like a challenger that fights for the world heavyweight championship. You’re not going to win on points. Either you knock him out or you’re not going to get any calls.”
In the 2011-12 season, the eyeball test tells us that seems very true. People complain about the league and how it’s become much less physical. It’s hard to ignore when marginal calls go against the lesser teams and in favor of the superstar teams like the Miami Heat. I must admit that even I felt like there were too many touch fouls being called.
Then I looked at the raw statistics over the history of the NBA and found something that shocked me.
In the 2011-12 season, NBA teams averaged 22.5 free throws per game. Why is this significant? It was the lowest rate in NBA history by over a full free throw.
Going a step further, I looked at five elite teams that are often accused of getting preferential treatment. Here they are with their NBA ranks from 2011-12.
8th – Miami Heat
9th – Los Angeles Lakers
17th – San Antonio Spurs
23rd – Chicago Bulls
27th – Boston Celtics
Remember last year’s playoffs when Indiana coach Frank Vogel was very accusatory about the Heat and their favorable calls? His Pacer team finished third in the NBA.
If a high school player tries to guard a college player, won’t he foul him more often?
Please, let’s stop the conspiracies. It’s one thing if the statistics back them up but even the numbers point to disproving this theory.
The referees have a really tough job and they do a great job. There’s no “superstar” treatment from them. They didn’t give the Heat the 2012 NBA championship – the Heat earned it and won fair and square.
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