It’s no secret that the relationship between the NBA players and the referees this season has been contentious. Just recently, Kevin Durant was ejected in his team’s win over the Knicks. He initially accused the refs of ‘picking on him’, but after having time to cool off he apologized for his remarks. But really, this is nothing compared to what’s been happening all season.
Technicals and Ejections for Everyone!
So far this season, we have witnessed some new faces become a part of the technical foul and ejection club. An emotional Steph Curry was ejected earlier this season for throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of an official. Durant has also been ejected a number of times this season after having some outbursts over foul calls. Even LeBron James has been ejected this season for ‘charging’ at an official. Russell Westbrook was recently ejected for arguing a no call when he clearly got fouled. I know this isn’t all of them, but they are notable to say the least. I’m sure Draymond Green and Boogie Cousins are also shocked, considering they are usually the ones who lead the league in technicals and ejections. Though, Green has expressed his frustration with the refs, saying basically they should all be fired. He isn’t the only one; many of the players have been vocal about the refs, but out of respect for Commissioner Silver they have tried to rein it in.
Tension with Refs Leads to Tension with Each other?
All of this pent up tension with the refs has to be released somehow right? Well, maybe that’s what we can attribute all of the altercations among the players to. There has been a lot of chippy play (and pettiness) going on around the league, leading some ‘fights’. NBA players don’t really fight; they just exchange words and get in each other’s face, except for Aaron Afflalo of course. Anyways, it seems most of that pent up emotion was released on MLK Day. In just about every game someone had an issue, but the most memorable was the Rockets-Clippers showdown. Only two people out of the possible five that could have been punished were suspended. The whole situation makes you wonder: do players take it out on one another because they can’t fully express themselves with the refs? I think that may be the case.
There is obviously no type of trust or understanding amongst the new refs and the players. The players no longer have that group of refs that they’ve built relationships with over the years, which means they can no longer get by on minor violations, like travelling or a double dribble. These new refs call EVERYTHING, but they sometimes miss the big ones, and that’s where the frustration comes from. Hopefully this meeting at the All-Star break will result in some positive changes from both parties.