Sportress of Blogitude

NBA must step in and resolve rift between players, officials

The deteriorating relationship between NBA officials and players has come to a head during the postseason in large part due to the controversy and complaints plaguing the Western Conference semifinal series between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.

In what should not come as a shock, the officials and players appear to have troublingly differing perspectives on what is at the root of the disconnect.

The issues contributing to the ongoing problems between players and officials can be traced all the way back to the 2017-18 season, if not much, much further back. Representatives from National Basketball Referees Association and the National Basketball Players Association arranged a meeting that December during which the issues were expected to be hashed out, or at the very least addressed.

Now, all this time later, the relationship appears to be getting worse, not better.

In a deep-dive examining the situation, The Guardian observes that NBA stars, instead of blaming officials — as is the current status of the situation — should instead “look in the mirror” and take ownership of their role in the continuing drama.

Further, the manner in which the players — not to mention the coaches — on both the Rockets and Warriors have conducted themselves when bemoaning officiating serves as a stark indictment that highlights the adversarial nature between the two camps.

On the other hand, former NBA referee Steve Javie, in a recent discussion with Frank Isola of The Athletic, argued that both parties must commit to repairing the damaged relationship.

“Unfortunately, the only relationship there can be between a player and referee is a working relationship,” Javie told Isola. “It’s as simple as that. I’ve got a job to do as a referee which you’re not going to like a lot of times, and you’ve got a job as a player to try to win the game. We’re going to be combative at times, and that’s just the nature of referring, coaching and playing. I think they’re going to have to pull the reins back. There is a directive. They don’t want the complaining. It’s up to the refs to uphold the standard that the league has set.”

In the end, perhaps the onus should be on the NBA — who just made a questionable decision concerning an official assigned for Game 2 in the Rockets-Warriors series — to assume a more authoritative leadership role and mediate the issues between officials and players. Even one anonymous head coach of one of the teams participating in the postseason had an ominous view of the rift.

“It is out of control, and that includes my own team at times,” the coach told Isola. “The league needs to do something about it.”