“I don’t even want to be here!” Those were Steve Kerr’s words as he waved the referee goodbye and walked off the court after getting ejected in the Suns-Warriors preseason game last night. As we wrote a few weeks ago, the NBA has updated a few rules, all with the goal of improving the flow of the game. All these changes are supposed to help create a more free-flowing style of basketball, helping offensive players. One of the emphases that Monty McCutchen, the league Vice President of referee development and training, pointed out throughout the preseason was freedom of movement. We see a lot of grabbing and pulling that doesn’t really look like a foul but is enough to disrupt a play. The NBA understands offense sells tickets so this will be a point of emphasis.
Coach Kerr lost his cool when Steph Curry was called for an offensive foul, his third of the night. Steph grabbed Ariza and obstructed his freedom of movement. Clearly, a foul that the league will be monitoring and calling vigilantly. At that point, Kerr stepped out on the court and treated the ref with a few chosen words at which point he got ejected. Right after that, the toughest guy in the league, KD also got ejected for talking to the refs. Now, there have been occasions when players and coaches have admitted they sometimes get ejected on purpose simply because they didn’t feel like being there. Maybe that’s a part of it. The other part is Kerr setting a tone for the refereeing standard his team will have throughout the season. Before we get into opinions let’s get a few things straight. We can speculate all day here.
The facts are as follows:
-the league informed all 30 teams about the new/updated rules and provided video material explaining all of them
-preseason is a time for the refs to figure out the new rules and how to enforce them and the players to get a feel what will be different in the upcoming season
-Steph was clearly holding Ariza and had to have known that was a foul
To make things even more interesting, Bob Meyers (Warriors GM) was commenting on the game. When a GM sees a replay and goes ”I couldn’t really see…” then its time for a laugh and a bull$%&# call on him. He saw it, it was a foul. Bottom left of the screen, right in front of the ref.
I’m about to get on my soapbox for a moment here, bear with me. The easiest thing to do in basketball is to blame the refs. We all had our team screwed over by a ref at some point in our life and they make the easiest target. What annoys me about this situation is the narrative that started immediately that basically implied the refs are stupid for doing this in a preseason game, cheating all these fans out of an experience by ejecting KD and Kerr, calling all these fouls etc. I CALL BULL#%&$ ON THAT. Everyone was informed of the new rules, Steph clearly grabbed Ariza and the ref called it. If anyone is to blame, it is Steph for making the foul and Kerr for losing his temper on a ref that made the right call. KD not so much, he is just a tough guy and had to step up for his coach, the heir apparent of Charles Oakley. And if you need any more proof that this was unnecessary I present my key witness, one DeMarcus Cousins:
There he is, laughing his ass off to Kerr as he walked off the court. When Boogie is chill and laughing at you, you know it was your fault.
It’s the preseason, none of this matters in the grand scheme of things. I just hope we all agree free-flowing basketball is what we want, grabbing other players in traffic prevents that, the ref should call it, players should stop doing it and if they do it, the refs can’t be blamed for enforcing the rules. Don’t agree with me? Here, look at the entire situation and tell me I’m wrong: