NBA Refs Blow Another Blatant, Crucial Call In The Clutch

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

A matchup between two of the NBA’s most nuclear athletes, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Russell Westbrook, climaxed with the former’s dunking all over the latter for a game-winning flush.

Except it shouldn’t have happened. Not if the officials on hand had witnessed the Milwaukee Bucks star’s stepping out of bounds en route to the hoop.

And it all unfolded about two feet away from referee Leon Wood, who, along with Derrick Stafford, also blew several calls in the deciding moments of the Christmas game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.

Here’s another angle.

Not that we needed the league’s confirmation, but their Last Two Minute Report conceded that Antetokounmpo’s dunk should not have counted.

“The league, and the officials, have to deal with that,” said Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan following his squad’s 97-95 defeat. “That’s what they’re in control of; we’re not. I’m more concerned about the fact that we didn’t play well in the first quarter and there are some things we need to do better.

“Obviously, he stepped out of bounds. Everybody knows that. I didn’t get a chance to personally see the replay. I was trying to ask for a review. They couldn’t review it, but that’s something the league has to deal with.”

According to Stafford, the officiating crew could not review the play because of the league’s replay protocol: “In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor. There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn’t review it.”

Refereeing NBA basketball, what with some of the largest, fastest athletes on the planet bending the minds of us plebes on a regular basis, can’t be easy. Which is why the league utilizes replays. But if refs and those in the review office can’t use it to make a blatant determination about a play that decides the result of a game in its waning seconds, what’s the point?