By Chris Le
Brent Barry should have sold the foul. That’s the explanation most experts are giving for the no-call, as if it’s some sort of justification for not blowing the whistle for obvious contact.
Admittedly, had Barry pulled a Kobe Bryant or Manu Ginobili and jumped directly into an aerial and extended Derek Fisher, the officials would have had no other choice but to call the foul (or at least, I would hope they do. Joey Crawford, infamous for his antics with San Antonio, was indeed head referee).
Instead, Barry hesitated for a split second and attempted to dribble around his defender, drawing incidental contact (see here). And yet, a foul is still a foul, and Barry arguably—perhaps justifiably—should have been heading to the line for two potential game-tying free throws, as opposed to the locker room down 3 games to 1.
But even I, the most die-hard and steadfast of Spurs fans, admit it was a decision that could have gone either way. (Note: the decision on when the blow of the whistle is debatable; the fact that it was a foul is not.)
No, this isn’t an article in which I deposit an outcry and suggest conspiracy. This is just me being pissed-off and expressing my own personal displeasure about the way things ended. As a Spurs enthusiast—hell, as a sports fan—I believe it’s well within my rights to do so. Bitching is one of the more underrated aspects of loving a sports team.
So the objectivity stops here.
As the defending champions, San Antonio deserved a chance to tie the game. People talking about the Lakers outplaying the Spurs, thus warranting the victory. Come on! That’s one of the lamest cop outs in sports. Teams outplay, out-coach, and out-talent opponents, and then go on to lose all the time.
It’s about execution and making plays when it matters the most. The Lakers failed to close out the game, making costly time-management mistakes, and the Spurs capitalized—or, I should say, put them in a position to win, since the word “capitalized” would only be appropriate had they won the game.
Last night, however, wasn’t merely a tale of officiating-induced woe; it was a prime example of the dichotomy between two franchises. Los Angeles, the internationally-known breeding ground of prima donnas, displayed their usual brand of smugness. At halftime, coach Phil Jackson credited the referees for “allowing” the Spurs to get back into the game. And in many post-game interviews, the league’s MVP Kobe Bryant, claimed ignorance of any foul occurring, while exposing his patented shit-eating grin. If that isn’t a tell, then I don’t know what is. Any rational person who witnesses the play can see the foul. End of stories. Blowing the whistle is a judgment call, and the refs didn’t want to decide the game. That as an answer, I’ll accept. But not Kobe’s.
San Antonio, on the other hand, who has a right to be upset, took the high road and owned up to their loss. They placed the blame squarely on themselves and not the botched call. Now that’s what I want in a champion. That’s what I want in my team.
End of rant.