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The NBA Should Not Indulge the Rockets’ Protest

On Tuesday, December 3, one of the strangest games in NBA history took place. The James Harden led Houston Rockets took on the San Antonio Spurs.

With 7:50 remaining in the fourth quarter James Harden dunked the ball…Right?

Well, not according to the referees.

Now, officials do blow some calls, that is a given. But, the issue that has people talking is that the Rockets lost this game. By one basket.

The Rockets are going to protest the loss on the account of the obviously blown call. But should the NBA indulge the Rockets? Not at all.

Indulge the Rockets
James Harden celebrates against the Atlanta Hawks

First and foremost, the Rockets blew this game. They were up double digits and let the lead get chipped away. One basket was likely not going to change that result, and no disrespect to Lonnie Walker IV, but a player of his caliber should not be leading the Spurs to a win. He is averaging 4.2 points and 1.1 rebounds a game. He should not be doing this against a team like the Rockets.

One of the stipulations the Rockets are asking for would be to replay the final eight minutes. Since the score would remain the same, 102-89, the Rockets would be at a huge advantage and would likely win the second time around.

Second, what kind of precedent would this set for the future? Do the Rockets mean to say that teams could go back and find every blown or missed call and determine they would have won based on that alone? That would be insane.

The Real Problem

The NBA should not indulge the Rockets. Instead, they should use this as an opportunity to look at the quality of the referees, and the rules surrounding replays.

There are three certainties in life, death, taxes and people complaining about officiating.

It always seems like there are some wildly blatant calls that officials will miss. But as of recent, it does seem to be getting worse.

This week alone there has been this Harden issue, and now LeBron James has joined the party.

It’s no-calls like this that leave fans scratching their heads. Surely the ref saw James just walking with the ball. Did it not get called because of James’ status as a player? Because it wasn’t impacting the game at all? Maybe both? Who’s to say.

It’s time the NBA cracks down on things like this. What’s the point of having rules if you won’t enforce them, at least on the superstars?  There is a time and a place for calling a foul. This is the “letter of the law” versus the “spirit of the law.” When it’s something as blatant as that, you call it, even if it isn’t game-changing. The same idea should be applied to all calls and replays.

The NBA should not indulge the Rockets. They lost the game themselves. In the context of the call, that basket was not going to change the outcome of the game.

Instead, the NBA needs to take a long look at how the refs are trained to make these calls and how they can improve the quality of games in the future so drama like this stops getting stirred up.

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