To err is human
The NBA already routinely fines, suspends or issues sanctions against referees in such situations. It is why such offenders seemingly disappear from the postseason scene, as if shuffled off into witness protection. The real issue is whether the league should make such sanctions public, as is the case for players who receive fines or suspensions after flagrant or technical fouls.
The difference here is human error — a mistake in judgment, not in the application of the rules. Do we fine players for committing turnovers, missing free throws or failing to follow a proper set? And if there is such admonishment, it comes in the privacy of the locker room. A last-minute call cost your team a playoff game?
Next time don't let it come down to the last minute. And if the referee blows it, consider it his version of a turnover.
Already under pressure
In the NBA, there is an inordinate amount of pressure on referees. They know a wrong call will cost them grief from thousands of fans in the arena, coaches, players and the millions who will see the call on television. Would a $2,000 fine eliminate bad calls? Is adding pressure to a referee's bank account — in addition to his self-worth — really going to help him more clearly see the difference between a charge and a block?
There is punishment for referees when they make the wrong calls — they lose their jobs. Referees are judged on film by their superiors, and if a referee continually is not doing his job up to snuff, there is another waiting in line. NBA refs earn good money, but not enough to where they can laugh off a fine like most players do.
Officials don't need any more pressure than what's already on them.
A draconian solution
Los Angeles Times
The easiest thing would be to bench referees for the rest of the current playoff series and the next round for making truly egregious mistakes. Of course, there is the very definition of an egregious error and how many officials would be left to call postseason games. And are we talking about definition by the fan base screaming the loudest or simply when the league has to issue a statement, as it did in admitting error in the Thunder-Nuggets game?
Everything is magnified 10 times over these days through the help of super-slow-mo video replay from nearly every angle and websites designed to break down the botched calls and non-calls.
One other proposed sanction: Forcing the officials to sit in a room with each other, reading pages of printouts of Twitter comments from the game in question. Can't think of anything much more draconian than that method of punishment.
2 wrongs not right
NBA referees are some of the most scrutinized and second-guessed in sports. That's plenty of punishment for a human error made in a split-second decision in the heat of the moment. Adding punitive measures in terms of suspensions or fines would be silly. You think the official who got the offensive interference call in the Thunder-Nuggets game wrong would improve by fining or suspending him?
If the league wants to get judgment calls at a 100 percent accuracy rate, expand instant replay. The league has done a good job of incorporating the few powers of instant replay into the course of the game so as not to slow it down too much. Broaden that usage.
The officials who are in the playoffs have passed meticulous reviews all regular season long. To punish them for a honest mistake now is just wrong.