In the Long run: Let ’em play

Michael Long, Sports Editor

This NBA season, one group of people have been running the show on the court, and it’s not the players or coaches. It’s the guys in black and white with who should be swallowing their whistles rather than wearing them around their necks.

It’s like all the refs got together before this season started and decided not to take any crap from anyone. They’re handing out technical fouls like candy and ejecting anyone who has a problem with it.

It also seems like the refs have targets on superstars’ backs. So far, Golden State Warriors players Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have a combined 19 technical fouls and five ejections. LeBron James has also been ejected for the first time in his 15-year career this season.

The kicker is that a ton of these calls are over small things, like questioning a call or jawing back and forth with another player. I get that refs want to be respected but a player should be able to question a call so they can learn and not make that same mistake. It’s disrespectful on the refs’ part to pin a player with a technical foul for questioning a call instead of taking the time to talk to that player and explain the call.

As for the techs being called for a little trash talk, I think it’s ridiculous. As a player, I know first hand how things can get heated in a game but it’s harmless. It’s nothing but the combination of adrenaline and competition pulsing through the body.

However, there obviously has to be some limit on how hot the players’ heads can get. Trash talk is okay in my book. It’s just a part of the game. Even players getting up in each others’ faces seems okay to me. It’s when it turns physical that I think a technical foul or ejection is justified. Recently in the NBA, it’s been turning physical a lot.

Just this past month, there have been two instances where actual punches were thrown. Not just a push or a shove, but a full on haymaker. Also on Jan. 16 during the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers game, Rocket’s Trevor Ariza and Clippers’ Blake Griffin were both ejected  after a night of subtle pushes and shoves. After the game, Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul, Ariza and two other Rocket players to the Clippers’ locker room, leading to a physical altercation with Clipper guard Austin Rivers. The Rockets ended up having to be escorted out by LAPD.

I think a cause to this outburst of violence is is the short leash the refs have on players. If the players aren’t allowed to get their frustrations out with a little trash talk then this could build up and lead to violence. Or players could be thinking something like, “I’m gonna get a tech if I say anything to this player I hate  anyway so I might as well make it worth it,” and then bam, hit said player in the jaw with a right hook.

To sum it all up, refs today need to take a serious chill pill and let the game be played. People are paying to watch basketball, not to watch their favorite player get thrown out for something petty. Luckily, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has stated that there are plans being made for a group of players to talk with a group of referees. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this will ignite many changes.