As a self professed Cleveland Cavaliers fan, it's understandable that I don't have much in the way of positive thinking for the Miami Heat. But as the years roll by, those felings lessen to a degree that I can be almost impartial to any judgment towards the team as a whole. Then, a night like Wednesday comes along and it all comes bubbling back.
The Boston Celtics missed a golden opportunity to steal the home court advantage with a 115-111 overtime loss to the Heat on Wednesday night. Of course, in their defense, it's hard to win when it's 5-on-8.
Let me explain.
The NBA will huff and puff their way around the one sided display of officiating that was shown in this pivotal game 2, even going to the point of fining any player or coach who steps out of line and speaks against it. But the proof was in the pudding. No, anyone who watched even the last five minutes of the game can attest to as one-sided a display of whistle blowing, or non-whistle blowing, as any that will ever be seen.
I mean, just look at these prime examples.
For the game, the Boston Celtics shot 29 free throws. LeBron James alone shot 24.
Miami as a whole took 18 more free throws and were called for 15 fewer fouls.
Paul Pierce, the biggest star on the Celtics, fouled out in the fourth quarter, one of three Celtics to foul out, and on a shady call in the playoffs; a time when the refs are quietly told to take it easy on the stars.
These grievances aside, the two biggest officiating flubs were non-calls that happened in overtime, both involving the Heat's Dwyane Wade.
In the first instance, with the game tied, the Celtics Rajon Rondo went hard to the hoop, attempting a twisty layup. He missed the shot and was obviously face raked by Wade in the process, though no whistles were to be heard. Then, a few plays later, Wade was flying towards a layup of his own and literally threw his foot out and kicked Boston's Kevin Garnett in the gut. Garnett got called for the foul.
How does this happen?
Look, I understand that the home team, in an unspoken rule, gets a slight edge in the officiating, but this degree of bias went way beyond the accepted and into the absurd. The worst part about it, besides the part where the Heat won (I'm still trying to let this go… trying) is that the obviousness of it all, on such a huge stage, taints the league and the sport as a whole.
The NBA can't go back and fix this. What's done is done. But what they can do is make sure this degree of favor doesn't get bestowed upon any team again in the future. The league needs to tighten up on their officials and call a more balanced, accurate game if they want to keep the sport growing.
The bottom line is this; the league as a whole is entering a potential golden era with the current crop of stars. So don't go messing that up with obviously biased officiating. It's plain and simple and is easy to remedy, period.
Don't mess it up NBA, your fans are begging you…well, the ones outside Miami are anyway.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: AP