Thursday, May 27, 2010

On The Celtics' T's: Bad Rules More Than Bad Calls

Kendrick Perkins was ejected from Game 5 of the Celtics-Magic series after earning two technical fouls which most reasonable fans seemed to view as unwarranted. With Perkins in jeopardy of what could be a series-shifting suspension, most fans are directing their ire at the referees for making poor calls. I think the anger should be directed at the league instead, because I think that the Perkins technicals were rooted in bad rules by the league more than bad calls by the officials. Let's take a quick look:

Kendrick Perkins: First Technical
The first Perkins technical was part of a double technical with Marcin Gortat, handed out for minor extracurricular jostling between the two. The practice of handing out double technicals for every minor altercation is a relatively new one - probably dating back 15 years or so.

Prior to that, refs would just give the ol' "Hey, cut it out or I'll throw you both out of here!" talking-to. I'm someone who supported the 2007 Stoudemire-Diaw suspensions because I do think that that rule minimizes fighting in the league.

But in this case, I don't think that double technicals serve as a greater deterrent to fighting than yelling at the offending players to cut the nonsense, and I think that the penalty of a technical foul is way too harsh for the offense, in part because it puts players in jeopardy of an unwarranted ejection, like Perkins was subjected to last night.

I've hated the knee-jerk double technicals ever since they were introduced to the league, and I wish they'd be eradicated.

Now, on top of that, I'll point out that, after the replay, I thought the double T was also a bad call, though an understandable one. Initially, I thought that Perkins had intentionally thrown the minor elbow, which was certainly enough to draw a double T based on the standards of how they are called. But, after seeing the replay, I do believe that Perk's arm slipped off of Pierce's, so I do think it was a bad call.

Still, I think it is a bad rule interpretation instructed by the league far more than it was a bad call.

Kendrick Perkins: Second Technical
I was surprised that the television commentary about the second Perkins technical focused on what he might have said or how he walked away, and neglected what to me seemed like the clear trigger for the technical call: Kendrick's "air punch".

It is a point of emphasis to call technical fouls on "air punches" delivered by players as expressions of disapproval with referees' calls. This rules interpretation has been added by the league in the last couple years, and "air punches" are called as technicals pretty consistently, no matter what the player says, or even if he says nothing.

Grant Hill received a tech in Game 1 of the Lakers-Suns series, and said afterward, "I don't know why I got it. I'm sportsman of the year three times. I didn't say anything. I just turned away and kind of moved my hands and I got called for a technical."

Exactly, Grant. It was a dismissive wave, even if minor, and it earned the technical.

Here is the wording in the video rule book on NBA.com: "While players are allowed Heat of the Moment reactions to calls with which they disagree, a player is never permitted to air punch, wave off or direct any other similar gesture directly at an official."

It is pretty much in black and white. (Note that while the wording says that the air punch must be delivered "directly at an official", I think that that is intended to mean "directly at an official's call", at least based on how I've seen these called. There are many times when gestures are sent in the opposite direction of an officially physically, but they are still called T's; the video examples include these instances.)

So, by the rule book, Eddie Rush's second technical on Perkins was the correct call. In fact, when Rasheed Wallace delivered an air punch after fouling out, it was the incorrect call to not give him a technical, and I can only imagine that Joey Crawford (more on him in a minute) didn't see it.

The problem is that this is a bad rule - way too rigid - more than a bad call. Do I think that Eddie Rush forgot that Perkins already had a technical, and otherwise would have let this one slide? Yes, I do. But the problem is that he is trained and in the habit of calling double technicals for the slightest provocations, and calling technicals for the slightest air punches.

Rajon Rondo: Technical
My opinion is that this one was the worst call of all, by far. Of course, I'm not privy to everything that happened or was said, but it certainly seemed like Rondo was largely calm and mainly wanted to discuss the call, as happens all the time, but Joey Crawford had to step in and once again try to be a tough guy. In my mind, the Rondo technical seemed nearly as outrageous as Crawford's ejection of Tim Duncan which rightfully earned Joey a suspension from the 2007 Playoffs.

I say this because the same fundamentals were behind the Rondo T: Crawford was not in control of his anger and tried to show that he was bigger than the game. And, in this instance, the call was made in Game 5 of a playoff series, as opposed to the regular season. Frankly, I think Crawford should be suspended again, even with an officiating corps which has been so decimated by injuries to veterans like Steve Javie and Mark "Your Body Is A" Wunderlich that we've seen the likes of Marc Davis and Ed Malloy calling Conference Finals games, and poorly at that.

12 Comments:

At 3:11 PM, Blogger E-N! said...

Actually, I think the rule about air punches means exactly what it says. An "air punch" directly toward an official could be very threatening coming from a 6'6 or 7' athlete, and that possibility of threats and coercion is probably what led the league to disallow it. The league isn't worried about players waving off an official's call, only about threatening gestures.

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Per the official rule text cited above, both the air punch and the wave off warrant technical fouls.

They are treated as equivalent - Grant Hill's G1 tech was much more of a wave-off - and my opinion is that the league is more concerned with the appearance of players being dismissive of officials than physically threatening, in the instance of rules.

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Rondo recieved his second tech because he tried to argue to call with crawford, who told him he was wrong and warned him not to press the issue. when rondo continued to comment, he was issued the tech.

the suprising part to me is that today perkin's SECOND tech was rescinded and not the first. accidental elbows happen all the time and rarely get called even if they cause damage (dwight howard) and this one's a tech somehow?

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

I read the Rondo scene as:
- Rondo wanted to discuss the call, as happens scores of times during a game;
- Crawford issued a line-in-the-sand warning which was completely unwarranted given the behavior;
- Rondo says one more word, and Joey shows how tough he is by issuing a T.

To me, the warning was the problem. I found it completely unwarranted and out of the context of how those issues generally seem to be dealt with, especially in an intense Game 5 of a playoff series.

 
At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Ayj said...

The Rondo tech was completely warranted - he was warned and warned again and Rondo elevated his emotions every time until he received the tech. I agree that the ref provoked the escalation, but Rondo was the one who was visibly barking louder and louder despite the warnings. Also, there may be some context missing from the ESPN coverage - there could have been numerous warnings on the same issue earlier. You just have no idea what got it to that point.

Perkins did get a raw deal on the first T because it was a slip that caused the elbow. Neither player should have received a T for that.

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

It is true that I don't know the specifics of what happened. I am going off of my sense of the scene based on years of seeing players discuss calls with refs, and years of seeing Joey Crawford having far too quick of a trigger in these situations.

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rondo comment was both funny, and stupid. Joey Crawford has this made up deal where he issues "warnings" to players, and even goes so far as to tell the scorers table. If I know this, if this is common knowledge around the league, then I'm Sure Rondo and the Celtics know this. Regardless of the situation, Crawford gave Rondo one of these "warnings". That should be a sign right there. A sign that it's Crawford's time of the month, and you need to leave him alone. What does Rondo do? He turns back around and barks something else at him. Tech earned. All he had to do was let it go.

 
At 8:41 PM, Anonymous AKSHUNCEO said...

OKI AM DIE HARD CELTIC FAN AND I BELEIVE WE LOST BOTH GAMES BECAUSE WE ARE NOT MAKING SHOOTS AND THE 4THE QUARTER OF GAMES 1 OR 2 WE JUST WON. HOWEVER I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH AGUIYS BEING JUST THROWING ELBOWS COMING DOWN ON PLAYERS BACKS WITH ALL OF HIS WEIGHT WHNE THEY ARE IN THE AIR IN BAD POSITIONS. DWIGHT HOWARD IS A DIRTY PLAYER WORST THAN NAY I HAVE EVER SEEN CAUSE HE GETS AWAY WITH IT BECAUSE OF THE NAB BS. I HAVE BEEN SAYIN GTHIS ISNCE THE PLAYOFFES BEGIN IF THEY DONT GIVE HIM A TECH TO CHECK THIS SOMEONES GOIN GTO GET HURT. OK HE THREW 2 AT KG IN GAME 4 I THINK 1 MISSED THE OTHER LANDED ON HIS NECK OK FOUL NO TECH. IF THATS CALLED A TECH HES OUT THE GAME AND ORLANDOS GONE FISHING CAUSE THE NBA CALLED IT A FLAGRANT THE NXT DAY. NOW RANDO GETS A TECH AND PERKINS GETS 2 BACK 2 BACK OUT THE GAME LOL. THE REFS R HORRIBLE WE ALL KNO BUT IF WHAT PERKINS DID WAS A TECH LAST NIGHT THENM WHAT HOWARD DID MONDAY WAS TECH AND THIS SERIES SHOULD B OVER PERIOD.NOW WE R GOING 2 CLOSE THIS OUT TOMORROW NIGHT NOT BECAUSE OF REFS OR CALLS ETC BUT BECAUSE WE HAVE THE HEART OF A CHAMPION AND WE ARE A TEAM. SO LETS C WHAT HAPPENS. DWIGHT HOWARD IS MENACE AND SOMEONE IS GOING TO SWING ON HIM FOR THE ELBOWS AND THE LEAGUE HAS NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THEMSELVES TO BLAME WHEN THE FIGHT STARTS.DAVIS HAS A CONCUSSION ON HIS UNINTENTIONAL ELBOW LOL YEA DUDE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HES DOING!

 
At 3:45 AM, Anonymous Planeswalker said...

I do seem to agree calls in the last few games were a little bit "biased" towards Orlando. Dwight Howard is definitely throwing hard elbows out there for the sake of "revenge" he got during the first three games. But Celtics bigs were giving hard fouls. Dwight does "dirty" fouls, hard and injury-causing fouls. (most obvious was his foul on Pierce on Game 4). Watch the replays closely man when Dwight is giving those fouls. Them Celts bigs are hurtin. ahaha

 
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