I don't mean to throw a wet blanket on the party, and no one is in the mood to be upset, so I should probably archive this for posting at a later date, but the story just came out, and I'm really in the mood for run-on sentences with excessive punctuation.
Now, Stern's getting serious. We can't have anyone else complaining. If anyone complains, it might show a chink in the armor.
No need to improve the quality of the officiating, I've got a better idea for those who complain:
So, it's about time that Phil Jackson shut up?
"I wish I had it to do all over again and, starting 20 years ago, I’d be suspending Phil and Pat Riley for all the games they play in the media," Stern said in a press conference ...
The thing is that Stern is agreeing and conceding that the NBA officials cannot stay unbiased. He doesn't say, "Hey, it's an unwelcome part of the game that deserves a fine, but our offiicials aren't swayed by it." He doesn't say, "For all the complaining that goes on, our fans know that the refs do the best they can." No, he blames the public perception of the officials on a small group of complainers -- and it is small; every time someone speaks up, they lose money.
They [the players and coaches who donate their salaries for speaking] give the impression to our fans that referees somehow have an agenda.
The impression that there is an agenda comes from the league for not admitting its problems.
Does LeBron get the calls? Yes. Is it an agenda or psychology? Well, human beings are primed to look at the results and then work backward to figure out what happened. So, when Channing Frye jumps straight up he gets called for a foul if the offensive player misses, but when James brings his hands and arms down after the jump it is a great defensive play. We expect Frye to commit the foul because he's a soft defender and a big-man shooting 3s. We expect LeBron to make the play because he's a talented stud.
What to do? What to do? Stern would sweep psychology under the rug. Fans call it an agenda. I would suggest honestly analyzing human frailities (self-deprecation got Reagan into the White House), being honest with the supporters of the NBA (the persons paying) and working on the issues.
However, mandating respect in the form of monetary sanctions rarely works. Respect is earned, not forcibly extracted.
How do you earn respect? An honest, transparent effort at a consistent application of the rules. For example, if leaving the bench gets you a game suspension, perhaps throwing an elbow to another player's chops should result in a two-game suspension. Or, better yet, grabbing an official during an on-court melee should result in at least a game's suspension.
As another example, look at "tough, physical" playoff games. The argument is that if the refs called it the same as in the regular season, then a whole canoe-full of players would be on the bench gettin' paddled. Then, we'd be in a horrible situation because the coaches would have to put fans in uniforms to play the games. Forget about the low quality of the games, can you imagine how many lawsuits would be filed by fans when the complained that they were stupid when they voluntarily stepped on the court without so much as a warning from the league? How many games would be lost before those stupid players, coaches and front office personnel figured out they needed to tell their multi-millionaire athletes to follow the same rules in the regular season as in the post-season?
I'm not saying the game should be called one way or the other. I'm just saying to call it the same.
And, I don't know if this occurs, but I'm also saying that officials are just like any other human being and need training and repitition as opposed to just being told what they've done wrong behind closed doors after a game.
Actually, though, Stern is right about one thing -- if he had been a man about back then, the fans would've had a lot less of Phil Jackson to put up with. He couldn't even do that one thing for me, could he?