Posted 06/10/2010 at 01:17 PM
While the perfect game fiasco last week upped the urgency for expanded use of replay, last night’s NBA Finals game 3 showed some of the problems with using replay in sports. To its credit the NBA is evolving and trying to make the game better for everyone involved and the new rule allowing replay review in many situations in the final two minutes is something the league instituted to try to improve.
There were three stoppages in the final two minutes of game 3, taking extra time was not part of the problem but the rulings did seem problematic in two cases. The first play was a Kevin Garnett turnover near the baseline, a double team left Garnett in a bad spot cornered away from the basket. With both hands on the ball, the ball was swatted out of his hands by Kobe Bryant and the ball bounced out of bounds. The ruling and clear call from the naked eye was that the ball was off Bryant as he hit the ball out of Garnett’s hands. When taken in slow motion, the ball technically is touching Garnett’s fingertips last and the ruling was reversed.
This type of play happens dozens of times in any basketball game at any level. If you slow them all down, there would be many instances when the player with possession of the ball is actually touching the ball last but the essence of the spirit of play in basketball should have the ball called off the player who made the attacking move to free up the ball. This is a problematic ruling that could come up again in critical instances.
The final replay review proved more problematic. Off a missed free throw Lamar Odom made a clear rebound of the basketball off the Boston miss. While he was in the air Rajon Rondo obviously hit Odom’s arm in what should have been a clear foul and the ball came lose and went out of bounds. The ruling was initially that the ball went off Rondo but the play went under review. On the review it was clear that the ball last hit off Odom, and that is all that could be changed even though there was an egregious foul committed on the play. The play did not end up costing the Lakers but it is not hard to imagine a similar situation impacting an outcome in the future.