On The Celtics' T's: Bad Rules More Than Bad Calls
Kendrick Perkins was ejected from Game 5 of the Celtics-Magic series after earning two technical fouls which most reasonable fans seemed to view as unwarranted. With Perkins in jeopardy of what could be a series-shifting suspension, most fans are directing their ire at the referees for making poor calls. I think the anger should be directed at the league instead, because I think that the Perkins technicals were rooted in bad rules by the league more than bad calls by the officials. Let's take a quick look:
Kendrick Perkins: First Technical
The first Perkins technical was part of a double technical with Marcin Gortat, handed out for minor extracurricular jostling between the two. The practice of handing out double technicals for every minor altercation is a relatively new one - probably dating back 15 years or so.
Prior to that, refs would just give the ol' "Hey, cut it out or I'll throw you both out of here!" talking-to. I'm someone who supported the 2007 Stoudemire-Diaw suspensions because I do think that that rule minimizes fighting in the league.
But in this case, I don't think that double technicals serve as a greater deterrent to fighting than yelling at the offending players to cut the nonsense, and I think that the penalty of a technical foul is way too harsh for the offense, in part because it puts players in jeopardy of an unwarranted ejection, like Perkins was subjected to last night.
I've hated the knee-jerk double technicals ever since they were introduced to the league, and I wish they'd be eradicated.
Now, on top of that, I'll point out that, after the replay, I thought the double T was also a bad call, though an understandable one. Initially, I thought that Perkins had intentionally thrown the minor elbow, which was certainly enough to draw a double T based on the standards of how they are called. But, after seeing the replay, I do believe that Perk's arm slipped off of Pierce's, so I do think it was a bad call.
Still, I think it is a bad rule interpretation instructed by the league far more than it was a bad call.
Kendrick Perkins: Second Technical
I was surprised that the television commentary about the second Perkins technical focused on what he might have said or how he walked away, and neglected what to me seemed like the clear trigger for the technical call: Kendrick's "air punch".
It is a point of emphasis to call technical fouls on "air punches" delivered by players as expressions of disapproval with referees' calls. This rules interpretation has been added by the league in the last couple years, and "air punches" are called as technicals pretty consistently, no matter what the player says, or even if he says nothing.
Grant Hill received a tech in Game 1 of the Lakers-Suns series, and said afterward, "I don't know why I got it. I'm sportsman of the year three times. I didn't say anything. I just turned away and kind of moved my hands and I got called for a technical."
Exactly, Grant. It was a dismissive wave, even if minor, and it earned the technical.
Here is the wording in the video rule book on NBA.com: "While players are allowed Heat of the Moment reactions to calls with which they disagree, a player is never permitted to air punch, wave off or direct any other similar gesture directly at an official."
It is pretty much in black and white. (Note that while the wording says that the air punch must be delivered "directly at an official", I think that that is intended to mean "directly at an official's call", at least based on how I've seen these called. There are many times when gestures are sent in the opposite direction of an officially physically, but they are still called T's; the video examples include these instances.)
So, by the rule book, Eddie Rush's second technical on Perkins was the correct call. In fact, when Rasheed Wallace delivered an air punch after fouling out, it was the incorrect call to not give him a technical, and I can only imagine that Joey Crawford (more on him in a minute) didn't see it.
The problem is that this is a bad rule - way too rigid - more than a bad call. Do I think that Eddie Rush forgot that Perkins already had a technical, and otherwise would have let this one slide? Yes, I do. But the problem is that he is trained and in the habit of calling double technicals for the slightest provocations, and calling technicals for the slightest air punches.
Rajon Rondo: Technical
My opinion is that this one was the worst call of all, by far. Of course, I'm not privy to everything that happened or was said, but it certainly seemed like Rondo was largely calm and mainly wanted to discuss the call, as happens all the time, but Joey Crawford had to step in and once again try to be a tough guy. In my mind, the Rondo technical seemed nearly as outrageous as Crawford's ejection of Tim Duncan which rightfully earned Joey a suspension from the 2007 Playoffs.
I say this because the same fundamentals were behind the Rondo T: Crawford was not in control of his anger and tried to show that he was bigger than the game. And, in this instance, the call was made in Game 5 of a playoff series, as opposed to the regular season. Frankly, I think Crawford should be suspended again, even with an officiating corps which has been so decimated by injuries to veterans like Steve Javie and Mark "Your Body Is A" Wunderlich that we've seen the likes of Marc Davis and Ed Malloy calling Conference Finals games, and poorly at that.