Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 4:34 pm  |  44 responses

NBA Fines Referee for Rivers’ Ejection

by Ryne Nelson

The NBA announced yesterday that it fined referee Bill Kennedy an undisclosed amount for issuing what Doc Rivers claimed was “the most unprofessional tech I’ve ever had.”

Rivers was furious after he got whistled for his second technical foul with 29.8 seconds left against the Bulls March 17.

“Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, ‘Where do you want the ball?’ And I said, ‘Ask them,’ talking about my players. That’s my right to say that, and he walked away.

“He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, ‘What?’ That’s when I got thrown out of the game. In a [5-point] game? Think about that.”

For that postgame “rant,” Doc is out 25 large. But here’s the crux: If the League admitted Kennedy was wrong by enticing Doc to say something, why should the coach be fined?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the League has never undercut one of its referees for a poor decision made in a game. That’s admitting Kennedy made a mistake.

The Referees Union, however, claims Kennedy did nothing wrong. Said spokesman Lamell McMorris:

“Some things you cannot take out of the arsenal of the officials. It’s not a stare to start some kind of disagreement or goad him into getting ejected, it’s just like, ‘Hey, enough is enough. And basically he didn’t even stare him down. He walked away, he turned his back per what he is trained to do and he removed himself from the situation.

“As far as we’re concerned, Billy Kennedy followed every rule according to the referee’s manual as it relates to handling situations like this. The only person in this scenario who has had a pattern of behavior that is unprofessional is Doc Rivers, not Billy Kennedy.”

As McMorris said, referees are told to just walk away when confronted by a coach. Kennedy did not. Since the League now claims transparency in its officiating, it should disclose how much Kennedy was fined and offer an official explaination for what happened. Either that, or it should start taking Mark Cuban’s idea of Referee Efficiency Ratings seriously.

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  • three food items and their life together in South Jersey

    we all know aint nothin gonna happen about it. siht! mooninites!

  • speedy

    I like the decission.
    First time the refs have to think about their work and that doesn’t happen enough.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    Well, the Tim Duncan incident

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Cue the Boston homers…

  • http://basketball-reference.com nbk

    The referees are the weakest part of the NBA. The weakest referees in any professional sport for that matter they should get better at their jobs and become more professional. I hope more and more coaches point out referees acting that way. I just cannot stand those guys acting like they are the government on the basketball court as if they know more about the game then everyone on the court. Accept the fact that you can be wrong your a grown man, this throwing guys out because they were pointing out your mistake is the act of a tyrant

  • Frodo

    the way i see it, NBA refs are the best in the world. I doubt there are any others that could do a better job. Besides, its their job to be tyrants on a court, if they started backing down, then the game would become even more full of complaining and whining on the players parts.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Good point, Frodo. I agree referees can be “tyrants” but they shouldn’t eject coaches because they’re taking that attitude to another level. Kennedy was punished, which is good, but why does Doc get fined for speaking out against it?

  • http://basketball-reference.com nbk

    Thats what I am saying, why is the referee allowed to kick a coach or player out of a game without the threat of being punished for being wrong. What I mean by Tyrant is they are making their own calls without the fear of being punished if they are wrong. The referees union is basically asking for their word to be law no matter what and that is completely wrong

  • MooButter

    NBK: You cannot compare referee’s in basketball to referee’s in any other sport. They have different jobs. Basketball, more than any other sport, contains judgement calls which must be made in a split second. Officiating basketball is more difficult than football or baseball because things are not as clearly defined. In baseball, a catch is a catch, a drop is a drop. In football, prior to the snap, the offensive line cannot move. If they do, penalty. Most of the calls in basketball are not black and white, they’re grey.

  • MooButter

    Oh, and one more thing. Only for the golden children of the NBA, the celtics, would the league come out and undercut the officials. Absolutely rediculous. I hope Stern realizes he has just set a precedent they are not prepared to back up. Will the league be reviewing all tech’s and ejections now? Will they be regularly “correcting” officiating mistakes? More importantly, would the league make the same moves given the exact same altercation between a referee and coach of a cellar team whose losing by 30 in a game that doesn’t matter? Because if they are not prepared to do, it never should have happened in this case.

  • http://basketball-reference.com nbk

    MooButter every call in every game is a judgement. In baseball the guy standing behind homeplate is JUDGING balls and strikes, in football everything that happens after the snap is a judgement call, holding, pass interference, illegal grounding, all judgments.

  • http://basketball-reference.com nbk

    Moo Butter they have been reviewing every technical and ejections all season. You have no idea what your talking about. Plus if you worked at a company and your boss was constantly wrong and unfair, wouldn’t you go through all means necessary to be as successful as possible even if that means complaining to “upper management”

  • MooButter

    Not the same. I agree that some of them are, but most are easier to see. Pass interference: After the 5 yard mark you cannot bump the receiver, you must play the ball, not the man. There is a certain amount of judgement, but most are clearly visible in the field of play, not to mention the availability of replay in most situations. On the basketball court they are “the governement”. It is their JOB to know more about the rules than anyone on the court and make these decisions. That’s why they get paid.

  • http://basketball-reference.com nbk

    No it is their JOB to SEE the rules better then everyone else. If you are involved in basketball in any way (ref, coach, player, broadcaster) you are supposed to know every rule. It is total BS for anyone to try and dismiss a referee messing up because of which team it is. The point is if a ref is going to give out bologne techs in the regular season what is that ref going to do under the pressure of the playoffs where the coaches emotions are running at such a higher level you know they will actually say something instead of walking away as rivers did. And the League would not be able to withstand the referees ejecting every coach who disgrees with them. Especially one who walked away and was BAITED into saying something even though all he said was “what?” If you think Ref’s should be able to impose their will on a game and make a bigger impact then the players and coaches then you have something completely wrong with your view of the game. And if the people who ARE supposed to make a difference can get fined for speaking up then the people who are supposed to be right should be punished/fined for messing up and being unfair just the same. (less money ofcourse)

  • http://basketball-reference.com nbk

    And for the record replay is NOT used for penalties in football so incontrast to what your trying to say, there is no difference in refing NBA and NFL except the sport is different. Every call in an NBA game has a rule it is obvious what to call but in a split second it is a judgment just like football.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Okay why the hell is the referee being fined if Rivers was t’d out the game?
    Or conversely if the referee was wrong, why the hell is the Doc being fined?

  • Nbk

    The latter and good question

  • http://www.Slamonline.com CP34MVP

    co-sign teddy!

  • stryfee

    speaking of mark cuban did any of you guys see him pretend to sneeze into a laker fan’s hat? on rewind the remix.

  • nastierthanyou

    Take a check and find out how much $ the league makes per year in fines. I’d say that it’s enought for a bentley with 24in chrome stop hatin’

  • http://www.sprint.com/sero dma

    what do referees make a game? back when the airline ticket scandal was going on, nobody ever disclosed how much they made, nor how much they were getting per ticket. what is with the referee union being so hush about what they make? shoot the players’ salaries get thrown around like nobody’s business.

  • Holiday

    How about taking that money and using it to school these ref’s on how to do there job, games are being decided on bad call’s and what’s with certain team’s and players getting call’s based on there skill and seniority in the league?

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    What’s funny here is that the League is sending out a mixed message. It fines Doc for criticizing the refs, and then by fining the guy, admits to their fallibility. I think fining Doc Rivers was probably a knee-jerk thing, and then they realized he had some merit to his arguments and tried to rectify the problem, but only compounded it.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    It really is true that NBA referees are probably the best referees in the world. Soccer refereeing is inconsistent at best and downright crooked in many sad cases. Hockey refereeing will always be a joke as long as fist fights remain an accepted part of the game. But I’d like to see the NBA make a clearer stand on its referees nonetheless. Does David Stern back up his refs, no matter what mistakes they make? If he does there’s the whole moral hazard issue, along with the fact that refs AREN’T infallible like the Tim Duncan or Donaghy cases.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    I forget who brought it up, but someone here on Slam mentioned a really great idea sometime back – to have referees available for postgame press conferences to discuss the calls that were made. The referees can’t be infallible, but most of them are pretty good. Transparency can only help the referees’ case; by admitting now and then that they made mistakes in a clear and direct way to the media and fans, this’ll not only add credibility to the referees, it’ll get fans to be more understanding and appreciative. Instead, by hiding the referees away from public scrutiny, it seems like Stern is trying to hide their mistakes.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    And my memory is kinda fuzzy on this, but it seems that D.Stern’s first reaction to any criticism of his refs is to go on the defensive, personally stand by them and fine/punish whoever criticizes them (usually someone like Cuban). And only when the refs REALLY colossally eff-ed up does Stern go into actually addressing the issue, such as the Donaghy case.

  • Holiday

    We can’t really blame refs i guess, because they do have a tough job but to say any do a good job is rediculous alot of players complain and they buy into that there should be no talking between the players and refs but games should be reviewed by a higher power if all will be fair!

  • Holiday

    We can’t really blame refs i guess, because they do have a tough job but to say any do a good job is rediculous alot of players complain and they buy into that there should be no talking between the players and refs but games should be reviewed by a higher power if all will be fair!

  • Holiday

    obviously every call cant be turned back and some calls result in different momentum that change the game! None the less at least in the 4th there should be a team or guy that reviews plays cause im sure refs get embarrassed about calls and dont wanna turn them over!

  • Shaun

    These refs wouldn’t be officiating professional basketball games if they weren’t qualified to do so, but no one’s perfect. Refs do not decide the outcome of the game, players do. Anyone who has ever played organized basketball knows this. I think all of you need to quit whining and just live with the fact that your team may not win every single damn game. This is officially a non-story. The Bulls won that game simply because they were the better team that night. Period.

  • BostonBaller

    Mo Charlo: This post really had nothing to do with The Celtics and us “Homers”, I guess the green hater-aide is very strong today. lol.

    Shaun:Players do decide games but from time to time a ref can “influence” the outcome…AND yes I have played a years of organized ball on many levels. This post wasn’t about who won the game but about what happened.

    MooButter: As far as the golden children of the NBA, I believe that might be LA or Cleveland right now. (nothing against them but it is a consensus that most would like to see a Kobe vs LeBron finals. Stop sipping from the same bottle as Mo Charles. lol (Mo & Moo hahaha)
    was that enough Boston “homerism”?

  • Sdfigits

    I want to see the right call made, hands down. I don’t care whether or not its against the team I’m rooting for, I just want the game to have its integrity back. Too many disputed calls are being blatantly blown and David Sterns autocratic mannerisms show he cares more for “the product” of the NBA than he does the game. We have even come to accept “superstar” calls as a matter of course and we are sitting back and letting referee incompetence compromise the game further. Is it finally time to look at the top and realize that drastic changes have to be made? David Stern is the longest tenured commissioner in a profession that demands change and flexibility. Its time to call out the true tyrant in Stern and force some substantive change.

  • BostonBaller

    Sdfigits, you are preaching to the choir. I agree with you. Even when MY team commits an obvious foul and it’s not called I complain. lol. It’s about watching a good game and in the end it’s just a bunch of grown men playing a childs game while making millions of dollars…

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Ludicrous call by the refs with 5.5 left in the Marquette-Mizzo game. Stepping over the line on an inbounds pass would NEVER have been called if it wasn’t 5.5 seconds left, it happens all the time. Let the players decide the game.

  • http://www.benfolds.com/acappella Dacre

    you have a team..?

  • B-town

    Joel O’s:
    Are you kidding me? He stepped on the line, the right call was made. If your favorite team was playing Marquette and that happened and no call was made, you would be yelling at the refs. We are biased towards our favorite teams and that biases us against the refs because they are going to make calls for and against our teams.

  • L33tSauce

    idk what the big deal is, the refs in the NBA do suck more than any refs in any other sport. To say that making NBA calls is tougher than NFL calls is ludicrous. The rules are clear for any sport. The refs don’t follow the rules in the NBA, traveling happens ungodly amounts of times each game. But the big thing is there is never any consistency. It is so annoying.

  • DJR.

    Being a ref in any sport is hard, what makes it easier for the NFL is the challenge system. Yes refs get it wrong sometimes, they’re human, if a system is to be created to make it fair then there needs to be the ability to review a play and perhaps reverse the decision made. A few years ago the NBA put bright red lights around the backboard as well as video review to assist with buzzer beaters – since its inception the accuracy of rulings in this regard has increased ten fold, why not adopt a similar process for all calls. Similarly to the NFL, you can only have a few a game/half/quarter, whatever the ruling is, and if you get it wrong you lose a timeout – why wouldn’t that work???

  • Cody Comets

    If the players and coaches would stop whining and complaining about every single call then they would not seem like the little boy who cried wolf when they have a legitimate complaint.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @B-town: I actually don’t have a favourite NCAA team. I just think it was a bad call that decided the game. Whether Mizzo or Marquette won didn’t bother me. It’s just that these fringe violations barely get called, stuff like 3-in-the-key, palming, and of course this inbounds violation. And when they do at such a crucial part of a game, and when they play a big part of deciding the game’s outcome, it just is pretty sad as a basketball fan to watch.

  • vtrobot

    oh, i LOVED how the spurs missed all SIX of those free throws on those BS calls. Classic. The ball truly doesn’t lie. The reffing at the end of the Pistons/Heat game was also garbage. I don’t really care which way you call it (fouls vs. no fouls), but just keep it consistent. It’s the Heat/Mavs finals all over again. Stop disrespecting these amazing athletes by making me dislike their game because of the terrible referreeing.

  • Cizzo

    Reffing can get a little biased but hey control your destiny!

  • L33tSauce

    if by biased you mean they suck, yes.

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