Let's try to understand the logic with the NBA and its replacement referees. With the regular officials on board, you have three to a game. But when the league decides to lock out the regulars because of a dispute over money, it opts to go with two (less experienced) officials per game.
Doesn't take a math major to realize that it just doesn't add up.
What it has amounted to is poorly officiated games that have gotten out of control, most notably the bench-clearing brawl between the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers that led to 14 players receiving suspensions.
Through last Friday, the league had imposed fines totaling $202,500 for fights and ejections since the start of the exhibition season, and issued 27 games' worth of suspensions. As a comparison, the league last year imposed fines totaling $143,000 and 22 games in suspensions -- for the entire exhibition and regular season.
Games have become ugly, with no flow being developed because of constant phantom calls. Phoenix reserve Tony Smith was called for a foul while lying on his back, with the foot of Golden State guard Tim Hardaway planted firmly in his chest.
"It's the first time I've ever fouled anyone with my chest, and
hopefully the last," Smith said.
And even if the officials do call a good game, they're in a no-win situation because the players already assume that the effort will be poor. And they treat the officials as such.
The only place to see anything resembling a basketball game these days is Toronto. The Ontario Labor Relations Board ruled last week that the NBA lockout was illegal, which is why on Wednesday three regular officials called the game.
"They did a fantastic job of balancing things," said Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon, after his team's 96-93 win. "You have experienced refs, and that's the difference."
It's a difference the league should recognize. There's hope that talks that began on Wednesday will yield an agreement as early as today. And it's about time. The play on the court has suffered enough.
Barry vs. Barry (vs. Barry)
When Rick Barry was shooting his underhanded free throws for Golden State, sons Jon and Brent were ballboys for home games at the Oakland Coliseum. On Tuesday it was Rick who was watching the action as his two sons squared off in a game between the Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers.
It was the first time the two Barry boys had faced each other as pros. Brent's a rookie, starting at the point for the Clippers. Jon is a reserve with the Warriors.
"I told them from the time they were very young that if they decided to follow in my footsteps, they'd have a giant shadow cast over them," Rick said. "But I think they've done a tremendous job dealing with it."
While Rick sat in the stands as a proud father, he has endured a somewhat strained relationship with his sons (Scooter has played in the CBA and is now playing in Germany, and Drew is a senior at Georgia Tech). Jon was 11 years old when his mother, Pam Connely, was divorced from Rick.
"You grew up in high school, and those are the most important times in your life as a son, and he wasn't around," Jon said. "He's trying to get back into our lives and get a little closer, and it's tough."
Said Rick of the rift: "They've heard only one side of things, and there are two sides to every story. It's just unfortunate; things happened that should have never happened."
MacLean is driving force
Now that Robert Pack has proved to be a find for the Washington Bullets, how are former Bullets Don MacLean and Doug Overton doing with Denver?
Overton is barely getting off the bench, having played three minutes going into tonight's game against New York. But MacLean has impressed his teammates with his aggressive style, averaging 11.4 points in less than 19 minutes a game. On a team of jump shooters, he's maybe the best penetrator on the team and is third on the team in free throws (31) despite his limited minutes.
"It seems like the one thing I do that not a lot of guys do on our team is go to the basket and draw fouls," MacLean said. "We've got Dale [Ellis] and Reggie [Williams] and Bryant [Stith] and Mahmoud [Abdul-Rauf] -- everyone can shoot. If I can get into the teeth of the defense a little bit and get to the line, I think that's going to open them up more."
MacLean scored 22 points in Wednesday's 137-127 triple-overtime win over Phoenix -- Denver's first victory of the season.
Lemon on floor
When the Detroit Pistons hosted the Bullets in a regular-season game a year ago, the warmth outside led to condensation on the arena floor -- causing the cancellation of the game.
The substance was oily, not water. Minutes later, Cleveland forward Danny Ferry turned to trainer Gary Briggs and said "My shoes are leaking."
Ferry's size-16 Converses were leaking silicon, inserted into the shoes to provide cushioning.
"I got a lemon," was Ferry's explanation.
Some might say the Cavaliers could make the same claim.
Quotes of the week
First from Miami forward Keith Askins on 5-foot-9 Orlando Magic coach Brian Hill:
"That guy needs a stepladder to write on the chalkboard."
And from Houston's Olajuwon, speaking to rookie Al Heggs, who had the misfortune to score his first NBA points on the night Olajuwon scored the 20,000th point of his career:
"You can have the [game] ball when you get to 20,000."