NBA officiating: And they call wrestling fake?

The referees in the National Basketball Association have become a complete joke, and this has nothing to do with the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal.

Favoritism toward the more popular players and teams has always, unfortunately, been a part of the game, but it’s getting worse and worse.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had season tickets to the New Jersey Nets since the early 1990s. The Nets have never been a popular team, and Jason Kidd, traded to the Dallas Mavericks a couple of weeks ago, was really the only marquee player the franchise has had since the days of the ABA, the red-white-and-blue basketball, huge afros, the New York Nets and Dr. J, Julius Erving.

So am I bitter? Yes.

But think about it: Did Michael Jordan really need the benefit of the doubt on every single call to drop 50 on any given night? The great players don’t need the extra help. They can dominate the game on their own.

All I ask (and I know this is sheer fantasy) is for them to ignore the jerseys and uniform numbers and just call the game. If a foul is committed, call the foul. If there’s no contact, swallow the whistle.

If a player with five fouls clobbers someone in the lane, don’t ignore it or call the foul on a nearby player just to keep the offender in the game. A foul is a foul, period. Make the call based on what actually happened.

The defense I hear most often: “People pay good money to see Player X play. We can’t have Player X fouling out.” Well then, tell Player X not to maim people in the lane six times, and he can finish the game.

The money doled out by fans is also used as another sorry-assed excuse for why superstars get every single call, including many complete non-fouls that should never have been called at all. “People scalped tickets for $1,000 to see Michael Jordan play.” Maybe so, but did they pay $1,000 to see him soar through the lane between two people and slam one home, or to see him standing at the free-throw line?

And why should the home team get the benefit on calls? Home-court advantage refers to having the fans on your side, looking into a familiar shooting background and being comfortable in your environment. Home-court advantage should not mean getting the benefit of the doubt on every call and being on the right side of ticky-tack foul calls.

Am I asking that much? Call what you see, regardless of who’s involved, and let the players decide the game.

With some of the calls I’ve seen this season, Tim Donaghy being gone isn’t really making much of a difference.

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