Dear David Stern,
Thank you for adding steam to your referee’s whistles. That’s exactly what all your fans want — more referee involvement. In fact, you’re a true visionary. You’re the first to see that fans don’t watch games to see basketball. We watch the NBA to see your striped laborers steal the show, Steve Javie singlehandedly stop a team’s run and Joey Crawford eject a star player. We watch to see how quickly Dick Bavetta can put a team in the free throw bonus.
Watching FIBA basketball one day this summer, I yearned for NBA refs. The FIBA whistle-blowers tried something outrageous; they let the players decide the games by themselves. Who wants that? Small bumps weren’t called fouls. A little complaining was okay. Hand checks were part of the game. Without a whistle every time I blinked, the play flowed like wine and beautiful women instinctively flocked like the salmon of Capistrano. As I watched such beautiful, unimpeded basketball, I found myself wondering what FIBA basketball lacked.
After searching my brain long and hard, I realized exactly what it was. I missed Bill Kennedy feuding with coaches. I missed Bob Delaney staring down players. I missed Joe DeRosa throwing the basketball at a courtside fan. That day, watching FIBA basketball without an unending parade of whistles ruining my night, I remembered why I love basketball. For the referees, damn it. They’re the stars.
So kudos, Mr. Stern. By giving even more power to the officials, by encouraging the quick trigger, by ensuring that basketball games are even more influenced than ever by people that don’t even play the sport, you’ve made my viewing experience one step better. I don’t know how I’ll ever thank you properly.
Jay King, Von Wafer, Paul Pierce, Nate Robinson, and every other person who simply wanted referees to play a bigger role
P.S. – A couple rules you should consider next: 1) Outlaw the dunk. Who wants excitement? 2) Norman Dale’s four pass rule. Fast breaks are unnecessary, if you ask me. And last but not least, 3) Make a 6’2″ height limit. Big men do nothing but dilute the game.