The NBA Veteran Call

11 06 2008

NBA veterans are favored by officials. 

Someone that’s been in the league for 10 years will get favored over a rookie.  It’s a well-known and accepted concept.

In the first-round match-up between Detroit and Philadelphia, Antonio McDyess would hit Thaddeus Young’s elbow on a shot.  No call.

No sigh from the announcers.  No knowing smile from McDyess.  Every player on the floor turns and sprints up court with only Young looking bewildered as he races to the other end.  I’m sure Mo Cheeks complained to the referee but he used to be a player; he knows the game.

Eventually, the rookie would accept the disparity in officiating and play through it.  It’s accepted.

Lately, I’ve struggled with whether I should accept these no-calls.

The NBA seems like a culture thick with fraternity.  These guys get paid a large salary to travel across the country and play more than 82 games a year.  They get an inordinate amount of media attention which generally dictates, and restricts, their day-to-day life choices.  It’s easy to see how someone that lives this type of lifestyle can quickly develop a bond with a cohort.

Like any society, ballers enter the league and are indoctrinated with its espoused and enacted rules.  Although there seems to be initial revulsion by newcomers, they quickly accept that officiating benefits veterans over younger players.

So, if it’s an ingrained aspect in the NBA, does it make it right?

I’ve always kind of frowned at these types of practices.  It’s wrong for a supposedly unbiased official to favor one player over another.  So what if McDyess is long on the tooth?  A foul’s a foul.  Respect the basketball game and call it.

But that’s not the full story.  The other viewpoint is concerned with the game as well, but it respects the history of the game.  Players like McDyess have spent years in the league and their histories are deeply woven in the fabric of the NBA.  The thought then is: aren’t they due?

The argument I can make for these veteran calls is this respect concept.  Respect for the history of the game is shown by favoring someone that has paid their dues in the league.  Most systems favor those that are “in” rather than newly-minted.  Buy into the system and you will eventually prosper.

My thought process brought me to this question: does respecting the history of the NBA trump respecting the game of basketball?  And secondly, does favoring veterans truly respect NBA history?




2 responses

11 06 2008

I like this notion and I like the post. This to me is such an innocent and kind of quaint element of the game, but all of the sudden with the spectre of league “taint” it becomes a little more sinister.

25 06 2008

I have no idea about those last two ?’s. However the Horace Grant look is pretty intense. Go get’em

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