When I watched this play I said to my brothers, “Damn, if I was a Lakers fan I’d be really pissed off by this ruling. Clear as day that ball was off Odom, but he got HAMMERED by Rondo. And the refs can’t overturn the foul, just the out of bounds call. That’s bullshit.”
And then I continued, “Hell motha-f*ckin’ yeah! It’s Celtics ball!”
That, right there, is the problem with instant replay. If you can only overturn certain calls there will be times, like this play, where the referees are forced by rule to make the wrong call. The right call was obviously to call a foul on Rondo, but the refs were bound to call out of bounds off Odom.
As TrueHoop’s Henry Abbot reports, Phil Jackson and other coaches foresaw problems like these when instant replay was first implemented.
“Those are the things that we questioned immediately when they brought in the rule,” Jackson said. “If you’re going to see a lot of things happening now on this type of thing where if it’s a 3-point play, a guy might have stepped out of bounds and no one saw it and he comes back in and now you’re looking at is it a 3-point shot or not, and you miss the fact that he stepped out of bounds, what are you going to do to rectify the fact the officials missed a call? So they made the decision that we can’t do that, we can’t make the adjustment.”
The NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson said the call was the right one, even though it didn’t agree with what millions of people watching the same instant replay saw.
“We anticipated that in some instances we would have a situation like we had with Rondo and Odom,” he said, “but the decision was made to keep the system narrow, and excluding judgment calls. As it stands right now, under certain instant replay triggers, for instance by example, a made basket at the end of the period, if you have a trigger and it’s reviewed, the system does allow you to review whether or not the clock expired, whether the field goal was called correctly as a 2 or 3, whether or not the shooter committed a boundary line violation, whether or not the 24-second clock expired, it also allows you to determine whether there was an eight-second backcourt violation. But it just does not allow for you to review matters involving judgment calls, or subjective calls.”
So why can’t the NBA use instant replay to overturn the foul call too?
“Judgment calls are not part of the system,” Stu Jackson explains. “Once you begin reviewing judgment calls, which in basketball there are many, you put yourself on a very slippery slope in terms of what could be reviewed, and ultimately the number of reviews that could take place that would make it unweildly.”
You know what else is pretty unweildly, Stu?
Letting your referees see a foul call that’s pretty damn blatant and then make them call out of bounds and give the ball to the other team. Something about the instant replay system has to change — I just don’t know what it is.
Maybe they should just get some better refs.