Mysterious technical fouls and confusing reasons behind them have become common in today’s NBA, as referees have been instructed to punish any kind of reactions or emotions to the calls they are making. The NBA wants to have a clean game, but it has taken away the pure emotion out of it and limited players to act robotically. Once upon a time, the trash-talking and taunting were essential parts of the game, making it more fun and interesting.
But one of the perhaps most confusing technicals of all-time happened in the early 2000s to Allen Iverson. Although he was among the best players at the time, his status and personality never bought him much love with the referees, as he often got into verbal arguments with them. But when former NBA referee Bennett Salvatore T’d him up in a game versus Pistons, Iverson just couldn’t comprehend the reasoning behind it.
After his Sixers stole the ball, Iverson got ready to run the fastbreak for an easy score, but Salvatore called a phantom foul call and stopped it, causing Iverson to react in disagreement. It wasn’t anything extravagant or malicious, but Salvatore decided to hand him a technical. It wasn’t that common to hand out technicals for those types of reactions back then, so Iverson wanted an explanation. The conversation between the two was pretty confusing:
Salvatore: “It wasn’t your play, and you went from there to there and brought the crowd down, youre not gonna do that.”
Salvatore: “Yeah these people here in the stands.”
AI: “Stop worrying about them and referee the game”
Salvatore:” My job is to referee the game.”
AI: ” Alright so why you worried about the crowd then?”
Salvatore had no answer for that, as he just told him to play on without a reasonable explanation. At first, this didn’t make any sense, but after some research, I found out the term “crowd down” refers to a player insinuating or motivating the crowd to boo or voice their displeasure with the referee’s call. A pretty blatant rule, but it at least explained the mysterious reasoning to this Iverson technical.
During the same game, Salvatore also had issues with Sixers coach Larry Brown and showed perhaps the worst trait a referee could have. A big ego. Salvatore wanted some of the spotlight, so he took it upon himself to make several controversial calls and get into it with players/coaches. The best referees are those you don’t see or talk about because they do their job without making a name for themselves. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those left.