May 02, 2005
Van Gundy works the refs

Now that the Mavericks have seized home-court advantage back from the Rockets (for what it's been worth so far this series), Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy is looking to get the edge back for his team. Could it be in how Yao Ming is officiated?

Van Gundy said he had been tipped by an NBA official that the league had ordered its referees to treat Yao differently than other players, a charge Van Gundy said his review of game tapes has confirmed.

"When you review his fouls, he looked you've got to give Mark Cuban credit," Van Gundy said. "They said it on TNT last night. He's been calling and calling about Yao. You've got to give the guy credit. He's taken a lot of fines in his time. He's been on them hard. He's gotten the benefit.

"Before Game 3, I got a call from another official in the NBA who's not in the playoffs that I've known forever, and he told me they were looking at Yao harder because of Mark's complaints. It proved prophetic, really, the last couple games. I didn't think that really worked in the NBA, but in this case it has."

Cuban, who described Van Gundy as an "amazing coach," said the Mavericks have asked the league to review examples of Yao and Dikembe Mutombo setting screens but that the Rockets' centers have actually gotten away with fouls that have not been called against them.

"That's crazy," Cuban said of Van Gundy's charge. "It's also an insult to officials. They don't officiate individual players differently. Did he notice that Damp (Erick Dampier) has gotten two quick fouls in every game and has been limited by foul trouble? Has he ever looked at Shawn Bradley's fouls per minute? They both seem to have the same type of fouls called on them.

"I will tell you what we did do, and I can tell you it has had zero impact on the officiating of the games. We sent in a list of what we thought could be moving screens on Yao and Dikembe from a game in the series. We wanted clarification from the league if our assessment of what was going on was correct. The league came back and told us of the 28 that we turned in from this game, nine were actually moving screens and should have been called but were not.

"We have the same type of examples from every game in the series. So if anything, he has it completely backward."

I don't really think much of anything will come out of this little mind game, but working the refs is a time-honored tradition, and taking the fight directly to Mark Cuban, who would be on the short list of any top ref-workers in today's game, is a clever twist. I'm just a little disappointed that Cuban hasn't yet responded on his blog.

For what it's worth, while the 1994 Rockets are one of two teams to win a series after losing the first two games at home, the 1995 Rockets won Games One and Two in the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs in San Antonio, then blew Games 3 and 4 at home. They went on to win Game 5 on the road, and then finally closed things out by getting the first and only home win in Game 6. I'm trying to keep that in mind as tonight's matchup approaches.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 02, 2005 to Other sports | TrackBack

Being a barker in the stands for years, I have mixed feelings on this. Cuban has for years said that NBA officials need more review, which I agree with. However, griping out Yao Ming screens is crazy. Yao gets called for being tall (that's about the only thing I can think of that he's doing when they blow the whistle). Of all the major sports, basketball refs are the worst. Period.

I'm waiting for the commissioner to let me know I've been fined. Fine.

Posted by: Red Dog on May 2, 2005 11:11 AM

Well, I know three things: (1) Dampier gets fouls called because he's an oafish thug; (2) Cuban whines about every call that goes against Dallas, (3) people wouldn't publicly "work the refs" if the method was never successful.

Posted by: norbizness on May 2, 2005 12:24 PM

Go Mavs!

Posted by: ttrentham on May 2, 2005 3:19 PM

I love this series


Posted by: Tek_XX on May 2, 2005 4:31 PM

One of the main reasons the NBA doesn't have the popularity of the NFL is abhorrent officiating. I think a non-trivial amount of the population believes games are fixed and therefore refuse to watch the league.

Posted by: Double B on May 3, 2005 12:17 AM

Double B and Norbizness make great points: I can't believe the NBA searches all over the world for players and has this poor set of officials.

Wouldn't it be great for the Rockets to go on a roll, take the Championship, and have David Stern hand the trophy over to JVG.

Posted by: Red Dog on May 3, 2005 12:56 PM