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Reffer Madness

This comes from a Diary by the Prophet.  It's a traditional subject but worthy of polishing off every once in a while.

About 6 or 7 years ago I was listening to ESPN at about 2AM. NBA ref Bernie Fryer was a guest and he stated that the refs have full permission from the NBA to give preferential treatment to certain players & teams. To be more specific, the top star players and top media teams. To be sure, he made it clear some refs do and some don't- and both stances are approved by the NBA.

He stated that the NBA is not about "fairness", it's a marketing business. When more money is generated, that money goes into everyone's pockets- the players, owners, NBA officials and even the refs. As he further stated, if Shaq was gathering fouls ("as he should") at a rate of one per every two minutes of floor time, or if MJ was being called for `steps', and IA for his illegal crossover and they all had to curtail their game and/or spend significant time of the bench, it hurts all involved financially and the fans get less entertainment for their money.

A good example was game 6 between Sacto & the Lakers a few years ago. I do not believe that an honest & objective person could possibly state that game wasn't thrown when controversial call after call after call went against Sacto. In the history of sports a game was never so predetermined. LA (with Kobe the Rapist & Shaq) generate a hell of a lot more money than Sacto in the NBA finals. I really felt bad for Sacto as they weren't allowed to play in the finals.

At the end of the interview, Fryer gave an anecdote about the refs yearly meeting with the NBA officials. At the end of their meetings, one of the refs is supposed to ask what the "official NBA" position is on giving `star treatment'. That NBA official smiles and, they all say it together, states, "we're looking into it". That's followed by a lot of laughter.

Ken responded thusly:
1, refs shouldn't decide who wins the game, and yes, it does happen occasionally.  It's always wrong.  2, it is legit when refs give preferential treatment to stars.  3, If the refs decided who wins every year, then New York would have a couple of rings by now.  The fact that SA, Portland, Seattle, Houston (arguable market size) have won championships belies the idea that the refs and league make these decisions.

Your thoughts/comments?  Are the refs preferential?  Appropriately or inappropriately so?  Weigh in at your leisure.

--Dave (