On Friday’s night match-up between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets – two teams that have a legitimate shot at the #4 or #5 seed in the West – fans witnessed a ridiculous delay of game technical foul from the boys in black and white. I’ll note that this isn’t the first time it has been called this season, but for some reason, this call seemed more ridiculous than most. Let’s recap:
With a little over a minute to go in the first quarter, the lightening quick Ty Lawson drove past his defender and got into the paint. With no clear shot, Mr. Lawson kicked it to the corner where a waiting Wilson Chandler got the ball, pump faked, and drove baseline. With only Kevin Love in his way, Chandler elevated over Love’s defense and softly finger rolled the ball in. On his way down, the ball and Chandler fell in perfect sync – side by side. Chandler’s natural reaction? Like we all would have done, he caught the ball. Maybe he knew he was catching it, maybe he didn’t. But this was all he did – caught the ball. After catching it – he threw it to a Timberwolves player and ran down to the other end of the court. Did he stare down Kevin Love after the play? Did he jaw to the ref saying he should have been fouled? No and No. Simply caught the ball and threw it to the opposing team. And just like that, Chandler was hit with a delay of game technical. The Timberwolves sank the technical; essentially wiping Chandler’s spectacular layup in half.
I understand the purpose behind this call, I really do. The refs want to keep the flow of the game moving. One team scores, the other team takes the ball out and so on and so forth. You certainly don’t want opposing players throwing the ball where no one is at in the attempt to get back on defense and prevent an easy layup. But calling delay of game technicals on measly plays like this? It has to stop. The refs actually slowed the game down even more by calling the T and having the other team shoot the free throw. While the thought surrounding this is sound, the execution is poor. Oh, you don’t mind the delay of game tech? Think it’s no biggie? Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario:
Kobe Bryant – Game 7 the 2013 NBA Finals vs. LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Ten seconds left in the game – Lakers down by two. With LeBron defending, Kobe glances up at the clock. 10…9…8…7…6…5. Kobe dribbles. With ice water in his veins and 4 seconds left Kobe stutter steps, crosses over to his left, pulls up at the elbow and drains a beautiful fadeaway jumper over the outstretched fingers of LeBron with only 2 seconds remaining on the game clock. The crowd moans as Kobe turns around and puts his finger to his lips in classic Kobe “ssshhing” fashion. The Lakers bench goes crazy.
While the ball was going through the hoop (and the Heat fans already leaving the arena), Pau Gasol who had been struggling for rebounding position against Chris “Birdman” Andersen, catches the ball on the way down and throws it to Joey Crawford. Joey – just abiding by NBA rules calls a delay of game warning. This delay of game warning is the Lakers second of the game. Steve Blake, the Lakers second leading scorer, held the ball two long in the first quarter while arguing an offensive foul after a clear flop by Chris Bosh. LeBron goes to the other end of the court, squares up at the free throw line, and calmly sinks the technical free throw. Without any timeouts, the Lakers try to foul on the inbound pass but Mario Chalmers gets by Jordan Hill. 2….1….0. Crowd goes wild & streamers pour from the rafters. LeBron gets his third ring. Kobe, as promised during a press conference at the All Star break, retires permanently from the game of basketball…1 championship away from catching the great Michael Jordan.
The delay of game technical. Good one NBA.