NBA officials are under the mistaken impression that their presence adds to the entertainment value of a contest. They couldn’t be more wrong, but … take Joey Crawford for example.The show he put on in a Lakers’ game the other night was an unfathomable piece of showboating. (Click and watch.)

The showboating, mostly the gyrating they do while they make time-consuming foul calls, slow the pace of a game beyond belief. I’m old enough to have watched the NBA on TV (when there was a single game on ABC on Sundays) back when Wilt, Russell and the rest were playing. How long ago, exactly? Well, when players were called for a foul, they still had to raise their hand so that the scorekeeper could note that they, indeed, committed the foul.

The time taken from the blowing of the whistle after the foul to the resumption of play, or to someone shooting a free throw, was minimal.

See the foul.

Blow the whistle.

Signal the number of the guy who fouled to the scorekeeper. (Guy raises his hand. Everybody sees who the foul is on.)

Get back to the game … free throws or an inbound pass.


See the foul.

Blow the whistle.

Official walks slowly toward the scorer’s table signaling the player’s number and demonstrating, for no real reason, that it was a travel or a hacking foul or a push.

Players stand idle, waiting for the official to extend the official’s moment in the spotlight. (See Crawford in the link above.)

The players take their time, seeing there’s no hurry, to the free throw line or to set up for the inbound pass.

When the officials are ready, the game resumes.

I’ve used my DVR to watch NBA games, fast-forwarding from the whistle to the resumption of play, and found myself saving an amazing amount of time. Toss in the time I save hitting fast-forward while a player is going through his free throw routine and I can watch an NBA game, plus a half of a college game, in the time it would’ve taken to watch the one NBA contest if I sat through the officials’ nonsense and the silliness players go through before shooting a free throw.

Last spring I recorded an ABC telecast of a 1960′s Celtics game. I tried fast-forwarding to speed things up so I could finish before I had to head for work. I found myself forwarding past the inbounds pass or the first free throw. So, I hit the rewind button. It occurred to me that the old days featured officials who kept the game moving and players who didn’t have a free throw routine that took 9.95 of the 10 allowable seconds at the line.

Nobody pays to see any official in any sport. Given the level of athleticism and skill of the fast-paced NBA game, officials need to try to stay out of the spotlight … rather than trying to steal like showboats such as Crawford do too routinely.


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  1. Korbe

    Wasn’t an issue in the strike with the NFL officials to have an introduction?

    Since the owners call the shots, it would seem to me that what happens on the court is all part of the show.

    November 28th, 2012 8:08 pm

  2. overtime

    Korbe…You mean like, “And at head linesman, No. 106…he’s an insurance executive from Duluth, Minnesota…Fred Hannigan…” kind of introductions? My disdain for officials leaves me unable to imagine them as part of the show. If they’re the best they can possibly be…we shouldn’t even know they were there…but, I’d enjoy those introductions…TED

    November 28th, 2012 10:54 pm

  3. Matt Witthaus

    If the announced official was a guy who blew a call the week before, the boos would likely rain down like this storm over us is doing. That would be entertaining. Careful what you wish for….

    November 29th, 2012 6:06 pm

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