I was recently shocked in the latest turn of events in the NBA. In a league that in my opinion is on the decline despite public’s popular opinion, they definitely get a thumbs up from me for the recent officiating of star player LeBron James. The NBA is known as a league that builds its image not by team, but by individual star athletes. Not really the route that is most respectable in terms of the history of basketball and the league, but you got to take it for what it is.
The norm in the league today is if you dare exhale a breath on a superstar like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or Kevin Garnett while he drives the lane, the refs will blow the whistle before you can blink an eye. I know its unrealistic of me to not expect the better players to get the majority of the calls, but there is a line that needs to be drawn at the same time.
And if the refs aren’t blowing the whistle its not because of a nice defensive play, its because they are scared to call a superstar for an evident 3rd or sometimes even 4th step, or an obvious palming violation.
On Sunday with the game on the line and the Cavs trailing by 2 with less than 10 seconds left, of course the ball was in the hands of LeBron James. There was no doubt what LeBron was planning on doing and that was driving to the hoop, and that’s exactly what he did. After sneaking past Caron Butler the help defense arrived at around the elbow, and that’s where LeBron went on to gather the ball and proceeded to take 3 steps to finish the hoop. And I am pretty sure LeBron thought what every one else thought when he heard that whistle, that they were about to give him an And 1 call, Because we have gotten used to this, but shock is what followed as they actually called a traveling violation. Yes let me repeat that, a TRAVELING violation, on LeBron James!!!! This correct call cost Cleveland the game.
In the post-game interview, LeBron pulled this one out of his bag of tricks, saying he took a “crab dribble,” now as entertaining as it might be to mock this with a joke or two, I am not going to go down that road as you have probably heard all the crustacean jokes there are. On a serious note though his explanation is completely bogus. For him to watch that replay and still stick to his guns with this “crab dribble” nonsense, shows that LeBron either is confused with the rule book or thinks every call should go his way. But can I really blame him for thinking every call should go his way?
The league has basically spoiled and pampered this kid with all he wants and needs throughout his complete young career; his expectations must be through the roof. LeBron is a tremendous player but his immaturity and the way he rubs off on the media still bothers me.
But before I give the NBA officiating too much credit, let me see them make such a simple yet rare call when it matters. Yes, you know what I’m talking about, in the PLAYOFFS. We all saw what they let LeBron get away with against Washington in the 2006 playoffs. If you thought Sunday’s travel was bad, as hard to believe as it may seem the walk he got away with in 2006 was ten times worse. These calls need to be made when the game is on the line, as they play a huge role in determining a true winner.
Eventually I am going to have to deal with the NBA never being like it was in the early to mid 90s, but that doesn’t mean I cant hope for some changes and improvements that seem necessary. I hope this occurrence is a sign of things to come in the NBA, and that these obvious calls become a regular happening to the league.