After further review…Several months after refereeing Super Bowl XI (January 9, 1977), I happened to see John Madden, the former Oakland Raiders Head Coach. The Raiders had defeated the Minnesota Vikings 32-14. Coach Madden was wearing his imposing Super Bowl XI ring given to him along with the players and appropriate T*E*A*M personnel as a symbol of their victory.
I had known John both on and off the field for several years and felt comfortable kidding with him. So I said, “John, that’s a magnificent ring, but I didn’t get one. I mean, you and I were on that Rose Bowl field for the same three hours and 15 minutes, yet you received that beautiful ring, and the NFL gave me this Timex. Why the difference?
Without hesitation Madden said, “’Cause you don’t care who wins!” Wow! That was a bit startling, but very true. As an NFL official responsible for the precise operation of the game which team won was never important to me; properly officiating the game was!
A newspaper article with the headline “NBA conspiracy theories: Long shot or Layups” caught my attention. The tenor of the story (I’ve seen this before) was that the National Basketball Association covertly control which teams will end up in the playoffs by influencing the officiating. Ridiculous! I know many current NBA officials and many others over the years. Bashing the integrity of officiating is uncalled for.
Having officiated both football and basketball for over forty years, it is apparent that officiating the game of professional basketball in today’s style of play in incredibly difficult. With seven-foot, 250 pound guys charging, blocking, dunking and rebounding, it is often a contest more suited to the NFL field. To suggest that the NBA attempts to subvert rule enforcement so that certain teams progress through to the finals carries the word “theory” all the way to surrealism.
The days of “Donaghygate” circa 2007 are over. (Note: Tim Donaghy was a 13-year NBA official who was convicted and served a jail sentence following his conviction on federal gambling and conspiracy charges). Today’s NBA officials have only one interest in mind: to officiate the game impartially. To suggest otherwise is farcical.
Will you make your decisions based on your honest appraisal of the situation?
Jim new book “101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” makes a great gift for Christmas!