The NBA manages its officiating because it is ruled by entertaining its customers and not by competition. The league was not well-known or as profitable as it is today until Magic
and Bird came on the scene in 1980. The league noticed how these two personalities and extremely skillful players influenced the popularity of the league that it has consciously or unconsciuosly decided to follow a superstart model.
The Magic Bird intrigue had all the elements of americana. It was east vs west, black vs white, and to those who loved each player good vs bad (lol). I am not sure but just how did each of these stars happen to end up on one of the biggest two rivals in the league BOSTON and lakers? Ws it luck or was it contrived. I will let anyone that knows about that draft weigh in on this, but you have to agree it was very fortuitous for the NBA to have these two on those two teams. Would the impact of the two coming into the league have been as big and long lasting if Bird had gone to the Jazz
or if Magic had been drafted by Dalls? I dont think so. I suspect the NBA had a plan when it 'planted' those two in Boston and LA.
Like all investments Bird and Magic had to be protected. They had to be given good supporting casts, they had to be paio well, and most importantly they had to be on the court, afterall they were the reason teh fans showed up to begin with. The latter meant their teams' appearances in the playoffs had to be often and sustained - no early exists. This also meant that the referees had to, as much as possible, ensure that the two teams and their two star players played as long as possible. They could not exit early in playoffs, and the two could definitely not foul out of games that often. Once this model was formed by the NBA the star search, designation, and treatment had to spread to select other players around the league. This was the draw. NBA fans go to the games not to watch the competition but to see the star players. I live in LA and one of the great things about when the Clippers
played at the decrepit Sports Arena was that the LA fans got to see the star players fromn other teams play at reasonable rates. The Clippers always sold more tickets when they had a Jordan, Shaq, Bird, etc come to town.
The star treatment in the NBA is accepted by everyone but the fans and teams on the receiving end of the calls. The announcers even say it that certain fouls will never be called on player X because he is a star. It therefore stands to reason that the more stars you have in the eyes of the league and its officials the more favorable calls you will get.
It has always amazed me that the NBA all defense teams are always full of superstars, but it makes sense when you consider the fact that the stars that already have superior skills are allowed more leeway to 'foul' lesser talented players. That is why a Kobe Bryant
, MJ, LeBron, etc are thought of as excellent defenders - because they are allowed excesses that lesser players are just not allowed.
This is the NBA model, and it will not change until the league values competition over star power.
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