We're a couple of days late on this (it came out on Wednesday), but that doesn't make today's linked piece any less of a must-read.
As was cited initially in the forums by CB member 'zerophase,' TrueHoop's Henry Abbott spent a day with the NBA's referees, and he put together a report of his experiences that is simply astounding. A sample:
A lot of calls that look like charges are correctly called blocks. When you rewind these plays on your Tivo, don't do what referees make fun of fans for doing: Trying to decide if the players feet were set before the contact. That's not the standard. What you want to know is: Is the defensive player's torso set in position before the offensive player begins his upward motion? The defense can not slide into position after the offensive player has reached this stage. Why did they set that standard at the moment of upward motion? [VP of referee operations Joe] Borgia says "because we had to set it somewhere. He adds that "the moment of alighting is too late." In years of watching film, however, Borgia has confidence they chose the correct moment.
Reading this brought me back to this summer's interview with announcer Mike Breen, who earned himself some reader heat when he said, "I think that a lot of fans don’t understand first off how difficult the job is. Number two, a lot don’t know the rules, so that might be one of the reasons why they’re screaming about that call or this call. So if they really sat down and looked at it objectively as opposed to as a passionate fan – which we all are – they’d maybe realize that the refs are more right than we think."
While I'll agree that Breen's comments look worse in print than they did when I stood there listening to him talk (he really didn't mean to come off as condescending), I'm likely guilty as charged as a fan on this one - by both Breen and Abbott. Didn't know that the torso was the standard for the block-charge, and I'm looking forward to having a new perspective on the way those plays are called in the season to come. Consider me shocked if I find that I was alone among fans in the dark on this.
That's really just the beginning of what Abbott's piece has to offer. It has plenty of insight and observation on a variety of official-related issues, just about all of which is likely to be of interest to NBA fans. As worth a read as anything I've come across in recent memory.