Worthwhile regardless of your opinion on officiating

Simplistic, training wheels on version of keeping a score sheet at home.  Regardless of what your opinion is on the impact the officials have on the game, this will tell you a lot about many things.

Step 1:  Get any piece of a paper, write Boston at the top and underline it if you feel the need.

Step 2:  Enjoy the game, while you're enjoying it, every time that Boston loses possession when they shouldn't have.  For example, a ball is called out on Boston when it was a Cavs player that knocked it out.  Or if Pierce is called for an offensive foul when he didn't commit one.  etc.  In all these situations write down a minus sign on the paper.

Step 3:  While you are enjoying the game (or not enjoying depending on how things are going).  And while you're writing down minus signs.  Every time that Boston retains possession when they shouldn't have.  Or every time Boston gains possession when they shouldn't have.  Like a defensive foul that should have been called that wasn't.  Or if a Boston player with stone hands, like Ticket Stub, knocks the ball out of bounds and a Cleveland player with worse hands, like Shaq, is credited with it.  Write down a Plus.  

Step 4:  At the end of each quarter instead of listening to insipid TNT commentary, just go through really quick and figure out what the net plus minus is.  I used to just pair up pluses and minuses in opposite columns and cross them out in pairs.  Whatever is left is the call disparity.  Ideally it will be less than five.  If it's substantially more than 5 it means one of the teams is getting jobbed.  Although probably not intentionally.  

Step 4b:  if you feel like getting advanced you can differentiate between close calls, like could go either way kind of stuff, and obvious poor calls (like the travelling that James is allowed to do once or twice a game inexplicably).  You can also track 3 second violations if you want.  But half the time you'll be like " . . . 5 one thousand, 6 one thousand, 7 one . . . oh *expletive* it, this isn't worth the effort." This can also be enlightening.  Because you can sometimes see that refs are trying to "even up" the close calls and etc.  And other times it's possible that the officials are in dire need of optical correction.  

Officiating doesn't always matter.  I'm not posting this to get flamed.  And I'm not posting this to justify my position.  I don't feel any particular need to have my opinion validated, although it's always nice to get an ego fluffing.  I don't believe that the officiating is rigged, I simply believe that it is possible for it to have an impact on the game.  I don't believe that Stern informs the officials before the game what team he wants to win.  It's way too dangerous to do that.  Scandals are bad for ratings.

Leagues don't fix games via the officials.  They don't fix games at all. They influence games via rules changes.  Or by telling officials that they want specific rules more heavily enforced.  Think about Baseball.  Over the years they've changed the strike zone, the ball, the height of the mound, and all of that has affected the average numbers players are able to get.  Basketball isn't substantially different.  Remember the synthetic ball experiment? Or for that matter, the slam dunk, the three point line, the charge circle.  Rules changes are almost always going to move in the direction of helping the offensive player.  Because offense is good for ticket sales, tv ratings, and international marketing. 

The two most popular stars in the NBA are Kobe and Lebron, because by general consensus they are the two best players.  Non-NBA fans know about Lebron and Kobe, they don't know about Rondo.  NBA fans do.  But NBA fans are already going to watch, they've got you, they don't have to make an effort to keep you.  If they want the international market to continue to expand so they can make money off of TV contracts in China and Europe and etc they need to keep helping the offense, which means helping Lebron and Kobe by proxy.  In a salary cap league you don't market Teams, you market players, because the players become the identifiable winners.  Kobe scores 50! it doesn't matter if LA won or lost, it's the individual acomplishment that draws attention to the headline.  This isn't going to change because people aren't going to change.  This is also why blogs have become the place where Team Fans congregate because then news and opinion can be catered to them without changing or endangering the headlines that cater to casual fans of the sport in general.  The NBA is in a battle to stay in 3rd place of a four team race, rather than slipping into last.  And the NHL has made some interesting moves to help the NBA do that basically since the NHL dead year.  But Stern knows this.  He's a very savvy guy.  That's why, in Cleveland, when they asked him if he wanted Lebron to stay or go, he said "I want him to stay in Cleveland."  Then he gave a list of reasons why.  But what it comes down to is, it doesn't matter.  Wherever Lebron ends up he's going to be the most popular player internationally.  What Stern would like if it could happen is for The Cavs to play the Lakers so he can have headlines of Kobe vs. Lebron.  And additional headlines of Kobe vs. Shaq for when the newspapers are feeling like being different.  Anything else is fine.  They'll market it, people will watch it, and the NBA will make a lot of money.  Orlando vs. Lakers would be okay, but not as sexy because the Lakers won last year and both teams are fundamentally the same.  Celtics vs. Lakers was 2 years ago, it won't be something original and new again so that won't work.  The other teams out of the West aren't as easy to sell as the Lakers, so all those options are in tier 3.  Don't think like a fan.  The commercials and the headlines aren't for us.  They're for other people that weren't living and dieing by it the night before.  Like Twilight.  It's not for me.  It's not marketed to me.  That's the reality of professional sports.  You can like it or hate it, but that won't change what it is.  Kind of like politics, only fun to watch.



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