If Stern Is So Upset With Van Gundy’s Remarks, Then Have The Refs Do Their Job

By Gregory Moore
Updated: May 6, 2005

Kwame Brown is not just a footnote in the draft annals of the NBA after the Washington Wizards basically fired him in the midst of a playoff run.

SAN ANTONIO – David Stern has his feathers ruffled because Jeff Van Gundy has aired dirty family laundry on the referees and how games are called. Uh Mr. Stern maybe you might want to realize that this isn’t some Oliver Stone conspiracy and that the reason why you and Stu Jackson decided to levy a fine against Van Gundy is because he only spoke something that has long been thought to be the case in any game that is called in the league. Maybe what the commissioner is not look to Van Gundy as a problem but maybe as someone who also is wondering the same thing. And just what is Van Gundy and others are wondering during these playoffs? The same things that everyone thinks about…why are the referees not calling the game in a proper fashion.

Now before anyone at the league office decides to hit me up with a fine or something, maybe they need to read and hear what the rest of us who cover this league are saying. The refereeing in these games is substandard. It’s not basketball. It’s not even on both ends of the floor and it is time that the striped shirts get that understood. A three-man referee system should be able to catch basic infractions and not be shielded or duped into the flop antics that have plagued this league. Phantom calls should not even exist with that system. However I can tell you that not only are bad calls made, there are bad calls not being called too. It happens in every game so far and I’m talking about everything from traveling, carrying the ball, palming the ball to hard fouls that are not being called with seconds left in the game. Look at the tapes from these games and I question if anyone can tell me that any crew has called a ‘perfect’ game. Perfect games don’t exist folks. What does exist though are games that have fluidity to them where the right calls are made and where referees own up to making or missing calls that should have been made.

Now do I think that Van Gundy was right in airing the laundry the way he did? Commissioner Stern is right in saying that maybe the Rockets head coach could have been a little more diplomatic. However for Stern to threaten Van Gundy’s livelihood is as tyrannical as it gets. The last time I checked you do have first amendment rights and freedom of speech is one of them. How often are their complaints in which a coach says that one referee or a crew is just horrific? What Stern didn’t like was the fact that a secret inner working of the league was told to the press. Well here’s another newsflash for the folks up in New York; it was already suspected that there are hot sheets given out to referees and that they are briefed on certain situations. Van Gundy didn’t tell us anything that the sports world didn’t already know. He just put a body to the situation at hand.

Nobody is saying that the referees in the league are crooked and that they are out to fix games. If that happens we are all in trouble and the league will have more than just a head coach shooting off his mouth. We all remember the IRS scandal in which several referees were ‘downgrading’ their seats a few years back and pocketing the money. Now we know that the referees aren’t doing anything shady or crooked but the league cannot tell anyone that these officials are truly doing their job. Some are and some may not. They are human and are prone to human fallacies and that usually means that there will be some bad blood between players and the officials in certain instances. While I’m not going nearly out on the limb that Van Gundy did and say that there is profiling done in these games, I am saying that it would just be nice for the league to really make sure that the calls are the right calls and that the officials stop acting like they are the Gestapo agents and are untouchable. I’m sure that is what Van Gundy meant to say; even though he aired out something that was long suspected by far too many people who are affiliated with this game.

BROWN’S IMMATURITY PERFECT EXAMPLE OF AGE LIMIT RULE Kwame Brown has been officially declared a cancer by the Washington Wizards as they have told him to just stay away from their playoff run. Good for them. I’m glad that an organization has stood up to a prima Dona and basically showed him that while he may be a top pick a few years ago, he is not bigger than the whole team. In other words, Brown has quickly proved my point why there needs to be a better vetting out process as to which 18 year olds make it into the league and which ones are sent to Austin, Ashville or another city in the NBDL.

There is no excuse for what Brown did. His family, friends and agent can’t spin this fast enough to make him look like a victim. What he did was unconceivable. There is no excuse for what happened and he will be lucky to find employment. Brown is everything that is wrong with having a high school kid come into the league just like LeBron James was everything right two seasons ago. Where James may be one of the more mature young stars in the league, Brown has been nothing more than a crybaby and a malcontent. So instead of him just handling the situation like a man, he creates enough of a distraction to where the Wizards are forced to do something that they probably should have done last year; they essentially told him that his services were no longer needed.

Here’s what I can’t follow and maybe somebody who is wiser and more knowledgeable on these matters can help me out. Whatever happened to going to work in this league? Since when did it become okay to call up the trainer and say that you can’t make it to practices and shoot arounds? Maybe Kwame doesn’t understand why he got ‘fired’ from his job. Let me spell it out for him and anyone else who thinks he got shafted; it’s called insubordination.

It’s Brown’s immaturity that just showcases what’s wrong with about 60% of the league right now. There are far too many 1980 something babies who think they are entitled to be stars and they haven’t proven a damn thing to anyone. A good majority of them couldn’t even tell you who some of the more prominent legends were unless they were prompted by somebody else and they definitely don’t understand the pain and sacrifices that those players made for the current crop to enjoy the lifestyle that they think they richly deserve. A work ethic for this generation seems so non-existent. Too many of them act like this is till a high school setting and that everyone will cater to them. Well this should be a wake up lesson for that group. General managers and coaches are not going to tolerate such actions and in case no one has noticed, the league in general is getting ready to do a crack down on players who cannot be professional in their actions with their respective clubs.

I have consistently touted that the NBA has done a poor job of assimilating the hip/hop culture into their marketing plan. As a matter of fact there will be an article about such a debacle coming shortly. However that does not give Brown or any player an excuse to act stupid and irresponsible; especially during the playoffs in which your team is a part of. Brown’s status in the league will be relegated to just a footnote in the annals of drafts and he will be just a journeyman player now. How sad for someone who another legend thought was worth the first pick overall in the history of the league. It’s a sad commentary but it’s the fact of life when immaturity meets the real world these days.