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Calling B.S. On NBA Refs (and Josh Howard, For That Matter)

From now on, The Out Route will be receiving regular contributions from Kyle Decker, an immensely knowledgeable and brutishly handsome young man who's got opinions out the ass. Here's the first of what will be many musings:

I'll be honest with you: I didn't put on the Mavs/Heat game until the beginning of the 4th quarter. But since it was tied, I think of it as putting a 12-minute game on from the beginning.


I was upset with the very end of the game. Although I really don't have allegiance to either team, I join the city of Dallas in crying "foul" to the foul called on D-Wade's shot at the end of the game. I watched the foul a few times, and I just don't buy it. Sure, there was contact, but that type of contact is common in basketball. If that play happened in the middle of the 3rd, that foul would not have been called. I've never bought into Bill Simmons' 1984 (as in George Orwell's 1984) version of the NBA where David Stern is running everything and he's got the refs doing his bidding. (Although the game is more exciting with the Mavs going into Dallas down 3-2 where they could fight it out, than Miami going to Texas with their backs against the wall in front of the road fans.)

However, there is a lot of pressure on the refs when it comes down to that last shot in such a tight game in such a tight series. In this case, the ref didn't want the game to end on his no call (which reminds me of a similar thing that happened in college football when THE Ohio State beat Miami for the title years ago.) It was the first overtime in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl and Ohio State had to score a TD to send it into overtime. Craig Krenzel's pass to Chris Gamble wasn't handled well, but the ref called incidental contact as pass interference, giving Ohio State another 4 downs to score, which Krenzel did with a rush for a TD. That was another ref too scared not to make the call, prolong a game that should have been over.

Now, onto the very end of the game, where Josh Howard killed their chances by calling their last timeout between Wade's foul shots so they couldn't advance the ball after Wade's shots. I'm all for the refs not reversing the call. Honestly, if you don't have court presence to know your time out situation, you should pay.

After the game, I was talking to an old roommate from my U of Maryland days. He reminded me that this wasn't the first time Howard made such a mistake. That year, the eventual champion Terps were hosting Wake Forest at Cole Field House, where the Terps were undefeated. The game was all tied up, and, with basically no time, Maryland missed and shot. WF's Josh Howard grabbed the rebound and called a time out. But there was a problem. Wake didn't have any time outs. In college, if you call a time out when you don't have one, that's a technical, which sent Maryland's Juan Dixon to the line with basically no time left on the clock (1.3 seconds), he hit one of two shots, and Wake didn't have a chance to score again. The game ended with a tearful Howard on the bench.

You would think after that loss, Josh Howard would never, ever, make such a crucial mistake again. Well, in Game 5, on a larger stage, he did. There was enough time for the Mavs to get a decent shot if they could have in-bounded from their side of the court, but Howard blew that. That's the second huge time out blunder in his basketball career. In 2001, Josh Howard made the mistake against Maryland, who later that year won it all. And in 2006, it's very possible that he made that mistake against another team that'll make him pay as much, if not more.