I am not one to complain about officiating. Sometimes it is bad. Sometimes it is good. Referees are humans and they are subject to the same biases and emotions as any other human is.
It is frustrating to see referees gets calls wrong late in the game. It does not eliminate the previous 40-plus minutes of basketball that had been played.
Still, just about everyone in Orlando was up in arms after Monday’s loss to New York for several questionable calls made at the end of the game:
There was Carmelo Anthony‘s travel on the final possession of regulation. Jason Richardson‘s tripping foul after he and Anthony got tangled up at midcourt. Then there was Dwight Howard‘s technical foul and sixth personal foul with about a minute to go in the game when Howard rolled the ball into the backcourt, which he believed would draw him a delay of game warning.
Howard and Gilbert Arenas seemed pretty peeved about the officiating after the game, but held their tongues enough not to get fined (yet). Stan Van Gundy passed on the opportunity to comment on the officiating.
I do not like arguing about officiating. The fact of the matter is, Dwight Howard and Jason Richardson should not have put themselves — and, more importantly their team — in a position to lose an opportunity at scoring points in a close game. Orlando still had a chance to win the game and these plays hurt their overall chances at getting a win (bad calls or not).
But it brings up an important point about the Magic and a perception they are constantly fighting — bickering with referees.
From Howard to Van Gundy to everyone on the roster, there is a slight perception the team let’s the referees get to them. You can visibly see it in Howard whenever a call does not go his way. And you can see it in some of the reactions of teammates. Orlando can and does lets officials get to them in a sometimes negative way.
We see it specifically when the Magic take on the Celtics. Boston does such a good job getting under Orlando’s skin that the team is almost distracted from playing the game while arguing with the referees.
And that is the point of speaking about this now.
Yes, there were some egregiously bad calls that affected how the game turned. But Orlando made things worse by continuing to harp on and argue calls. Howard, especially, has to watch himself because he does have a reputation (deserved or not) for arguing with referees. I believe this is why he gets such a short time to cool down. referees know to watch him. It will take some effort to erase this perception.
This will become especially important as the Playoffs draw near. Orlando cannot allow itself to get distracted by these bad calls when games are on the line when they really count.