The Incident at hand - Arguing with a Referee
On Sunday, Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers was ejected from the Lakers' game against the New York Knicks for arguing a foul call. Referee Leon Wood called a foul on Bynum while Bynum was defending Amare Stoudemire. Wood walks over to the scorer's table and Bynum steps into Wood's path with his arms outstretched to express his frustration over the call. This earned Bynum the first technical foul. Bynum continued to argue with Wood and this earned him the second technical foul, now rescinded, which caused the ejection from the game. The official NBA rule book outlines the power given to officials to 'correct errors' during a game and also outlines the process by which a team can protest a call or if the NBA decides on it's own if a call needs to be reviewed. The difference between these two situations is if the error is discovered during the game, it is up to the referee to correct it. After the game, correcting errors is at the discretion of the NBA as directed by its Commissioner.
This is where the subjective nature of the NBA's 'discretion' becomes unclear. The Lakers won the game in question 109-87 over the New York Knicks. The box score from this game still lists Andrew Bynum as having 2 technical fouls. Based on the NBA's ruling, Bynum will only have the first technical foul applied to him and any subsequent fines. But realistically, what can the NBA do after the fact for the action of being ejected from the game? Bynum was putting up some good numbers before he was ejected in this game against the Knicks with 18 points and 7 rebounds. If the Lakers lost to the Knicks, would the score change? The details of the decision to rescind the second technical foul against Bynum will come out soon I hope, so some of these questions can be answered. Until then, I am going to give you a few 'technical' points to consider when you are watching NBA games this week or in the future.
Play by the Rules
Call me crazy, but the Official NBA Rulebook is a good read if you give it a chance. It lists the things an NBA player, coach or bench staff can do during a game to be assessed a technical foul. They are:
- Delay of Game - Player and Team
- Excessive Time-outs
- Face or Eye Guarding (Face guarding is exactly how it sounds - getting in someone's face. Eye Guarding is the act of putting your hand over your opponents' eyes from behind them)
- Hanging on the Rim - Deliberate (This doesn't include when you are trying to look out for your own safety or the players' below you - it refers to the grandstanding or showing off which can inhibit others' safety)
- Illegal Substitute
- Throwing the Ball at the Official
- Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Includes Punching)
The one in question in Bynum's case is "unsportsmanlike conduct". We know that unsportsmanlike conduct in any sport is any action which is detrimental to the game or is committed against the spirit of fair play. In the NBA, this can mean a coach, player or bench staff. It is not like "punching" or "throwing a ball at the official" which are clearly defined infractions. In Section V - Conduct, Subsection (e) it says: "Cursing or blaspheming an official shall not be considered the only cause for imposing technical fouls. Running tirades, continuous criticism or griping may be sufficient cause to assess a technical foul. Excessive misconduct shall result in ejection from the game". So according to Referee Leon Wood Andrew Bynum was excessively expressing his frustration and warranted an ejection from the game. Bynum was complaining and was pretty vocal about it and by all means you can say Leon Wood was right to apply the first technical foul on him. However, was it worse than Ron Artest's or Kobe Bryant's who also were assessed a technical foul on the night? The number of technical fouls you accumulate in a season and during the playoffs also affects how much a players' fine is assessed. Consider all of these issues and challenge yourself to read the NBA rulebook if only to better acquaint yourself with the rules. This way you can look at calls intelligently, instead of being one of those people who yell at their screen incessantly not having a clue. One of my pet peeves.
Thanks for joining me today. See you on Thursday for more Raptors' opponent analysis in "Behind Enemy Lines".