20 Second Timeout is the place to find the best analysis and commentary about the NBA.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Clippers: The NBA's Bermuda Triangle

The news that Clippers star forward Elton Brand ruptured his left Achilles tendon on Friday during a routine workout session--a potentially season-ending injury--reminded me of how the Clippers franchise has been the NBA's version of the Bermuda Triangle for the past 25 years or so: players sail in and then disappear. If you follow the NBA at all then you saw the gruesome knee injury that promising young point guard Shaun Livingston suffered last season but serious injuries are nothing new to the Clippers. For instance, when Marques Johnson joined the Clippers in 1984 he was a productive and durable 28 year old three-time All-Star; in 1986 he suffered a serious neck injury that ended his career (other than a brief stint with Golden State in 1989-90). Similarly, when Norm Nixon joined the Clippers in 1983 he was a productive and durable 28 year old, a 1982 All-Star who missed only seven games in his six seasons with the Lakers; in 1986 he suffered a serious knee injury and after he recovered from that he ruptured his right Achilles just before the 1987-88 season began. That basically ended his career, other than a brief return with the Clippers in 1988-89.

Perhaps Bill Walton should not be included on this list of woe because injuries dogged him throughout his NBA career but it is worth noting that he won a regular season MVP, a Finals MVP and a championship in Portland prior to becoming a Clipper; meanwhile, his six year Clippers' career--his longest stay with one club--included two seasons in which he did not play a game due to injury, a 14 game "season" and a 33 game "season." Then in 1985 the Clippers traded him to Boston for Cedric Maxwell (plus a draft pick and cash) and Walton promptly played in a career-high 80 games, shot a career-best .562 from the field and won the Sixth Man Award as the Celtics cruised to the 1986 championship.

Speaking of Maxwell, he won the 1981 Finals MVP as the Celtics captured the first of three championships in the Larry Bird era. Maxwell was also an important player on the 1984 championship team. He injured his knee during the 1984-85 season but when he joined the Clippers he was a reasonably healthy 30 year old who had played in at least 78 games in six of his eight NBA seasons; within two years after arriving in L.A. his career was over.

Michael Brooks of La Salle was honored as the national player of the year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) after averaging 24.1 ppg and 11.5 rpg as a senior in 1980. The Clippers selected him ninth overall in that year's draft and he played in 293 straight games, including every game of his first three seasons. In 1982 he finished second on the team in scoring (15.6 ppg). For all intents and purposes his career ended when he tore an ACL in 1984.

In 1984-85, former Louisville star Derek Smith emerged as a fine replacement for Brooks, leading the Clippers in scoring with 22.1 ppg. He averaged 23.5 ppg in the first 11 games in 1985-86 before a suffering a season-ending knee injury. Smith was never the same player again.

Jamaal Wilkes was already 32 years old and slowing down when the Clippers signed him in 1985 but after playing 42 games in 1984, 75 games in 1983 and at least 80 games in each of the five seasons prior to that he played just 13 games with the Clippers before retiring; at least he did not tear his ACL or rupture his Achilles.

Danny Manning almost singlehandedly led Kansas to the 1988 NCAA Championship, earning the honor (curse?) of being selected first overall by the Clippers in that year's draft. His rookie season was just 26 games old when he tore his ACL. Manning recovered and eventually made the All-Star team twice but he never became an elite, franchise-level player. Perhaps he would not have done so anyway, but it would have been interesting to see how his career would have progressed if he had had two healthy knees for more than 26 games.

Ron Harper finished second in Rookie of the Year voting as a Cleveland Cavalier in 1987. Three years later he was considered one of the league's rising stars when the Cavs traded him to the Clippers early in the 1989-90 season for the rights to Danny Ferry. Harper averaged 23.0 ppg in the next 28 games in L.A. before tearing his ACL. Harper never regained his trademark athleticism. He later escaped from L.A., remade himself as a defensive specialist and won five championship rings, three with Chicago and then two more with the Lakers.

Harper left the Clippers in time to salvage the second half of his career but the best move seems to be to get out as soon as possible. Terry Cummings won the 1983 Rookie of the Year award as a Clipper but was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia that was potentially career-threatening; he went through periods when he was light-headed and even fainted on at least one occasion--but after his second season with the Clippers he was traded to Milwaukee and he ended up playing in the NBA until he was 39 years old.

Pro basketball is a grueling sport, so injuries are bound to happen, and I don't really believe in curses--but if you were a free agent player who had a choice of going to several different teams would your first choice be set sail into the NBA's Bermuda Triangle with the Clippers?

posted by David Friedman @ 6:15 AM

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

What is the Purpose of a Basketball Blog?

Information is easy to find but thoughtful analysis is very rare. As I suggested in one of my recent Kevin Garnett posts, the purpose of 20 Second Timeout is not to "break" stories but to break them down and explain their implications.

A comment about my initial post concerning the Tim Donaghy situation brings to mind some larger questions about the nature and purpose of the blogosphere. On Friday July 20, I saw a headline on ESPN.com that mentioned that Donaghy was under investigation. I quickly realized that it was in fact the New York Post that actually broke the story, not ESPN.com, so I went to the Post's site to read Murray Weiss' article. Weiss gave a broad outline of some of the allegations but did not mention Donaghy by name. Clearly, this was a big story and something that any NBA fan would want to know about, so I knew that I should post something on the subject but at that point the story consisted largely of speculation and it was not definitively known that Donaghy was in fact the referee in question. I hate speculation and have no interest in publishing a "breaking" story if I don't have a solid factual basis to say something. So I decided to simply post what I knew and let my readers evaluate the information for themselves. Clearly, if a referee fixed games this would be the darkest day in NBA history--a sentiment that Commissioner Stern himself essentially reaffirmed several days later during his press conference--so I began my post with that thought. Weiss is the person who actually investigated the story, so I cited his Post article first, noting that Weiss did not mention the referee by name but that ESPN.com reported that it was Tim Donaghy. Honestly, I am still not sure that I did the right thing and at the time I wondered if I should wait to post anything until Donaghy's name was confirmed or else leave his name out of the post. By making it clear that ESPN.com had "outed" Donaghy, I felt that I placed the responsibility on their shoulders if that information turned out to be incorrect.

In the remainder of that brief post, I tried to put the story into some historical context by referencing some previous gambling scandals and reminding readers how adamant Commissioner Stern has been about not placing a team in Las Vegas as long as that city's casinos post betting lines for NBA games. On Saturday morning, I followed up that post by listing five questions that I would like to see answered about this case (none of which have been answered to this point). I understand why everyone is going back and looking at film to try to find something suspicious that Donaghy may have done but, frankly, until the questions that I asked in my second post are answered that whole process may just be a waste of time (for the general public, not for the FBI or NBA of course); we don't know what exactly Donaghy is accused of doing or how he evaded detection while he did it, so we don't know which games to look at or what to look for in those games.

Anyway, when my initial Donaghy post went up on Yardbarker, the first (and only) comment it received was "A little late here bud. But it does not shock me. Officials are corrupt. From the airline scan a few years ago to this." The latter reference is to the scandal when some NBA referees exchanged first class tickets for coach tickets, pocketed the money and did not report this on their income taxes. The thing that struck me was the "A little late" remark. My post was up within hours of the story breaking, included links to the original New York Post article and ESPN.com's subsequent report containing Donaghy's name and provided some historical context for the situation. What value is there to posting something earlier that would possibly be incomplete or, much worse, inaccurate? That is why I never waste space here with gossip or trade rumors. When Kevin Garnett was actually traded, then I made a post explaining exactly what the deal means for Boston, Minnesota and KG himself, followed by another post putting the seven for one swap in historical context.

The funny thing to me is that on Yardbarker and Ballhype, some people do nothing more than make brief posts with links to news stories on ESPN.com or other big mainstream sites. They provide no original analysis and often they don't even add one or two sentences expressing their own opinion--but these posts receive many "thumbs ups." Is it really that hard to find a story on ESPN.com and post a link to it? Does this provide some essential service to readers that they could not do for themselves? Generally, the only reason that I cite a story from ESPN.com (or anywhere else) is to post some analysis about it. I don't see the point of just mentioning that there is an article at ESPN.com. Does the "Worldwide Leader" really need the advertising? Do sports fans not know that the site exists and frequently posts articles, each of which is conveniently categorized by author and sport?

Even funnier to me is that ESPN's in house basketball blog spends a substantial amount of time linking to ESPN stories. Hey, maybe that is part of the job description, but I don't think that it is particularly hard to find the basketball articles at ESPN.com; by all means, cite an article once in a while if you have something unique to say about it or if it is really, really interesting but otherwise it seems like needless duplication to have staff writers producing original work and a blogger who is essentially advertising the writers' work.

What about when I place links in a post to earlier 20 Second Timeout posts or when I place links to a new article that I wrote for a different site? Isn't that the same thing? The difference is that 20 Second Timeout is newer than ESPN.com and not nearly as big. A new reader here might have no idea that a certain player or team has been extensively discussed in a previous post, so sometimes it is relevant to indicate that. Similarly, if I don't mention that I have written an article for another site, readers may not be aware of it--but anyone visiting ESPN's basketball blog presumably can very easily find the articles written by the site's various staff writers.

So why did I wait until nearly two weeks after my initial Donaghy post to make this post? My initial thought was that people who are posting nothing but links to ESPN.com and other big websites are not harming anyone, so why antagonize them. Also, sometimes I wonder if it would improve 20 Second Timeout's traffic even more to do the same thing; hey, posting nothing but a few links is a lot easier and faster than actually coming up with original commentary. I finally concluded that while doing nothing but posting such links does no harm I really, honestly do not understand what good it does, so maybe in response to this post someone will write a comment that will help me to understand why such posts are so popular. As for making such posts myself, I don't see that ever happening. I enjoy analyzing players, teams and events and would not be interested in just putting up some links to redirect people to stuff that they can easily find on their own.

posted by David Friedman @ 5:50 PM

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Placing the Kevin Garnett Deal in Historical Context

Boston's seven for one (five players, two draft picks) trade for Kevin Garnett is unprecedented in NBA history but there have been several other occasions when one All-Star was dealt for multiple players. Often, the traded star eventually takes his new team to the NBA Finals at some point, while his old team understandably generally has to do some rebuilding. Here is a look at how some of the more famous of those transactions turned out for both teams:

Wilt Chamberlain was twice traded for three players. The first time it happened was on January 15, 1965, when the San Francisco Warriors sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers for Paul Neumann, Connie Dierking and Lee Shaffer (plus cash considerations). Chamberlain led the Sixers to the 1965 Eastern Division Finals, where they lost in seven games to Boston ("Havlicek stole the ball!"). Philadelphia went 55-25, 68-13 and 62-20 in the next three seasons. The 1967 team set a record for most regular season wins (since broken by Chamberlain's 1972 Lakers team and two Michael Jordan Bulls teams) and won a championship. Chamberlain won three of his four MVPs during that period, leading the league in rebounding each time while also claiming three field goal percentage titles, one assists crown (the only one ever won by a center) and the last of his then record seven scoring titles. Without Chamberlain to finish the 1965 season, the Warriors ended up with the worst record in the NBA (17-63). The addition of Rookie of the Year Rick Barry in 1966 helped the Warriors to improve to 35-45. Ironically, in 1967, the 44-37 Warriors lost to Chamberlain's 76ers in the NBA Finals. In 1968, Barry sat out his option year so that he could jump to the ABA the following season and the Warriors went 43-39.

After the 76ers lost in seven games to Boston in the 1968 Eastern Division Finals, Philadelphia traded Chamberlain to the L.A. Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff. The Lakers went 55-25, 46-36 (Chamberlain missed 70 games with a knee injury), 48-34, 69-13 and 60-22 in Chamberlain's five years with the team. The 1972 squad won the championship and set a record for regular season victories that stood for 24 years. Three of the other teams lost in the NBA Finals, while the fourth fell in the 1971 Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks. In Chamberlain's four full seasons he won four rebounding titles, three field goal percentage titles and one Finals MVP. The 76ers went 55-27 in the first post-Chamberlain season but tumbled steadily after that as other great players also departed: the ledger reads 42-40, 47-35, 30-52 and 9-73, which is still the worst record in NBA history.

Technically, on June 16, 1975 Milwaukee traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley to the L.A. Lakers for Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman but since Wesley only played one more NBA game this was effectively a four for one deal. Abdul-Jabbar played the remaining 14 years of his career in L.A. but for the purposes of this discussion we will just look at what happened in the four seasons after the trade, because prior to year five the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson. The Lakers missed the playoffs with a 30-52 record the year before they acquired Abdul-Jabbar and even an MVP performance by him in 1975-76 only lifted the team to a 40-42 record, still not good enough to qualify for postseason play. Abdul-Jabbar again won the MVP in 1977, leading the Lakers to the best record in the NBA (53-29), but L.A. lost to Bill Walton's Portland Trailblazers in the Western Conference Finals. L.A. went 45-37 and 47-35 the next two seasons. During those four seasons, Abdul-Jabbar won two MVPs while leading the league in blocked shots twice and rebounding and field goal percentage one time each. Meanwhile, Milwaukee went 38-44 in the team's first post-Abdul-Jabbar season, exactly the same record that the Bucks had in his final year with the team. The Bucks went 30-52, 44-38 and 38-44 the next three years.

Charles Barkley was twice traded for at least three players. On June 17, 1992, the Philadelphia 76ers traded him to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang. In 1992-93, Barkley won his only MVP and made the only NBA Finals appearance of his career as the Suns lost in six games to the Chicago Bulls. Phoenix had been a good team prior to Barkley's arrival (53-29 in 1991-92) and went 62-20, 56-26, 59-23 and 41-41 during his four seasons in the Valley of the Sun. Barkley made the All-NBA First Team in 1992-93 and followed that with two Second Team selections and one Third Team selection. The 76ers were a bad team in Barkley's last season (35-47) and got worse after he left, going 26-56, 25-57, 24-58 and 18-64 in the next four seasons. On August 19, 1996, Phoenix traded Barkley to Houston for Sam Cassell, Chucky Brown, Robert Horry and Mark Bryant. Barkley was 33 years old by then and clearly on the down side of his career, though he did average 23.2 ppg and 11.6 rpg in his final year in Phoenix. Barkley spent four injury-riddled seasons in Houston, teaming first with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and then for one season with Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen. Those would have been formidable trios a few years prior to that but all of those players were past their primes by that time. Houston went 57-25, 41-41, 31-19 and 34-48 during Barkley's seasons with the team; Barkley only played 20 games in his final season. The 1997 squad lost to Utah in the Western Conference Finals but Houston failed to advance past the first round in each of the next two seasons and missed the playoffs altogether in 2000. Without Barkley, Phoenix went 40-42, 56-26, 27-23 and 53-29.

It will be interesting to look back in four or five years and see what the Kevin Garnett blockbuster deal looks like in comparison to these trades.

posted by David Friedman @ 6:10 PM

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Breaking Down the Kevin Garnett Deal

If you follow the NBA at all then you probably already know that Kevin Garnett has been traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 draft pick (top-three protected) and the return of a conditional draft pick originally obtained from Minnesota in the Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak deal. Minnesota is also receiving an undisclosed amount of cash. Apparently, Garnett has agreed to a three year contract extension that will keep him in Celtic green through the 2011-2012 season.

The point around here is not to "break" the story first with the same generic information that you can find at 1000 other websites but rather to break down the story and examine what it really means for Boston, Minnesota and Garnett, who is obviously the biggest name involved in the transaction.

Let's look at Minnesota first. The Timberwolves have missed the playoffs the past three years with Garnett and they figure to be even more lousy in the short term without him. After all, the players that they acquired from Boston could not make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference playing alongside Paul Pierce. Jefferson certainly looks like he can develop into an All-Star eventually, while Green and Gomes are young, solid players who are still improving. Minnesota also has Randy Foye, who had a good rookie season. Leading returning scorer Ricky Davis has seemingly been in the league forever but he is only 27 years old. Yes, Davis is a bit of a head case but if he does not get with the program he is talented enough that Minnesota can trade him and get good value in return. Those five players, plus the two draft picks, give Minnesota a decent chance to build a good team in the next two-three years--and that is certainly a much more appealing future than the alternatives, which involved either watching Garnett grow old while leading Minnesota nowhere or getting nothing in return if Garnett opted to leave when his contract expired. On the other hand, the Timberwolves might have been able to get a little more for Garnett had they pulled the trigger on a deal earlier.

The upside for Boston is pretty obvious; the Celtics now have three All-Stars, with Garnett joining Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Detroit is the only other Eastern Conference team that has that many All-Stars, though one could certainly argue that it is preferable to have the duo of Shaquille O'Neal/Dwyane Wade--when both are healthy--than to have either Boston or Detroit's collection of All-Stars. Boston is not particularly deep or talented once you get past the big three but if the Celtics cannot win at least 45 games with this team then something is seriously wrong. The real question is whether or not Boston is a serious contender for the Eastern Conference championship. In the wake of Cleveland's trip to the Finals last season, there is some overblown rhetoric that any halfway decent team can duplicate this feat. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it minimizes the impact that LeBron James had and ignores the fact that the Cavaliers have become an outstanding defensive team. James' all-around game creates all kinds of openings for his teammates, while at the same time he is capable of carrying the team all by himself for stretches, as he showed against Detroit in his amazing 48 point game five performance. Also, while the other Cavaliers are not big-name players they collectively play strong defense. Any team that hopes to duplicate Cleveland's march to the Finals will have to match that defensive intensity. It took two seasons for Coach Mike Brown to completely get his defensive system in place, so don't expect instant results in Boston. Also, while Garnett is a very good defender neither Allen nor Pierce are especially noted for their efforts at that end of the court--and if they don't bring it on defense then it will be hard to get the rest of the team to buy into a defensive philosophy, either. I would not expect this squad to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals this year. It is fashionable to make fun of the East, but Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, New Jersey and Toronto are all good teams, plus Washington should be back in the mix with the healthy return of Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Orlando continues to improve. Don't forget that Allen, Garnett and Pierce all missed the playoffs last year, so putting them together on one team is not quite like putting Jordan, Pippen and Rodman together in 1995-96.

Kevin Garnett's career is now entering a make or break phase in terms of his legacy. Yes, his individual numbers have been very impressive and he has won many honors, including an MVP, but Garnett has never led a team anywhere in the postseason, save for one Western Conference Finals appearance. To this point, this failure has been excused because it has been said that he did not have a good enough supporting cast. Now he is playing alongside two legitimate All-Stars and has moved to the conference that is universally perceived to be weaker. Garnett will no longer have to battle with Tim Duncan's Spurs, Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks or Amare Stoudemire's Suns. If Garnett is as great as his advocates have always said that he is then he has to at least turn Boston into a legitimate Eastern Conference title contender in the next two or three seasons. Perhaps Garnett's biggest weakness has been an inability to take over games offensively down the stretch but that should not be a problem on this team because Pierce and Allen are able to fill that gap. All three stars will probably score fewer points than they did last season and it would not be shocking to see Garnett actually be the third option offensively, with the scoring distribution perhaps going like this: 22 ppg for Pierce, 20 ppg for Allen, 18-19 ppg for Garnett (assuming that all three players are healthy).

posted by David Friedman @ 7:03 PM

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Are Hue Hollins and Jake O'Donnell Really the Best Authorities on Refereeing?

Ever since the Tim Donaghy situation became public knowledge, many people have come out of the woodwork to offer their two cents' worth about how the NBA recruits, trains and evaluates its referees. Hue Hollins, Jake O'Donnell and Mike Mathis each worked for a long time as NBA referees and they have added their voices to the growing chorus that says that the NBA had been doing a poor job handling its referees long before the current crisis. I value Mathis' opinion on this matter because he was an outstanding official, even though some of his remarks make me wonder if he might have something personal against the NBA's Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn and/or Stu Jackson, who is the NBA's Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations (and Nunn's boss).

Jackson and Nunn are very much on the hot seat right now, because people are wondering how is it possible that a corrupt referee did not raise any red flags during the league's supposedly thorough evaluation process. I say that it is too early in the process to cast blame in their direction--or in any direction other than Donaghy's, if it is true that the FBI has the goods on him. The problem is that we--meaning everyone outside of the FBI, including possibly NBA Commissioner David Stern himself--do not know exactly what the "goods" are. Did Donaghy "fix" games? If so, how exactly did he do it? Were other people in the NBA involved? Until we know exactly what crimes were committed and the logistics of those crimes, it is reckless to start blaming people. One of Mathis' assertions, though, deals with a broader issue than just the Donaghy case; he says that the in-game observers that the NBA assigns to monitor referees' calls are not qualified, that they come from the ranks of failed NBA referees or are even people who lack any kind of officiating background at all. I don't know how Mathis, who to the best of my knowledge has not been employed by the NBA for quite some time, knows this or if it is even true but if he is right then that is certainly a matter that the NBA should address. Again, though I do respect Mathis, the tone and tenor of some of his comments--I am thinking specifically of an interview that Mathis did recently with Jim Rome--make me wonder if he has something personal against Nunn and/or Jackson, both of whom were in the league when Mathis was a referee.

Hollins and O'Donnell fall into an entirely different category than Mathis. I know that Hollins' name was the first one to come to mind in some quarters when the news first came out that an unnamed NBA referee was suspected of fixing games. That is because he made one of the worst calls ever in an NBA game, possibly costing the 1994 Chicago Bulls a chance to go the NBA Finals. That was the first year of Michael Jordan's first retirement and the Bulls were contesting a playoff series against the Knicks that eventually went seven games. The home team won all seven games in that series but the best opportunity that Chicago had to win a road game happened in game five. The Bulls were up with just seconds to go when rookie Hubert Davis launched a jumper that was woefully off target. A famous still photo of that shot clearly shows that the ball was well out of his hands and that Bulls' defender Scottie Pippen had not touched him--but Hollins inexplicably whistled Pippen for a foul. Davis made the free throws and the Knicks escaped with the win. Darell Garretson, who refereed that game along with Hollins and eventually became the league's director of officials, later conceded for the record that it was a "horrible" call, a startling statement considering that referees rarely speak to the press about such matters. Hollins seemed to have it in for the Bulls on several other occasions, making questionable foul calls and seeming to have a quick trigger for technical fouls. Bulls' Coach Phil Jackson was fined by the NBA for publicly questioning how Hollins called Bulls games. If you go back and check, Hollins made some "interesting" calls down the stretch in one of the Bulls' 10 losses in their amazing 72-10 season in 1995-96. Obviously, Hollins must have graded out fairly well overall to last as long in the NBA as he did but to hear him talking about what he would do to improve refereeing in the NBA sounds like a sick joke. Anybody can miss a call but he missed an obvious call that had significant implications. Just as bad, if not worse, he plainly displayed a bias in other games that involved the Bulls. I don't know what his problem was but he's the last guy I would put in charge of fixing NBA officiating.

Many people will still tell you that O'Donnell was a great referee. That may be true from a purely technical standpoint, in terms of knowing the rules and having the ability to accurately call a game--but O'Donnell held grudges against players and teams and those grudges very obviously affected the way that he called games involving those players and teams. The two most prominent players he did not like were Clyde Drexler and Buck Williams and O'Donnell extended his animus to any team for which those guys played. You could see it when Drexler and Williams both played for Portland--and it exploded in such a nasty way when Drexler later played for Houston that it ended O'Donnell's career. O'Donnell whistled Drexler for a very dubious clear path foul in game one of the 1995 Western Conference semifinals and when Drexler complained O'Donnell almost instantly issued two technical fouls, which of course means an automatic ejection. The NBA and O'Donnell both deny that O'Donnell was dismissed as a result of this incident but O'Donnell never worked another game. O'Donnell initially denied that he had any kind of issue with Drexler but he later admitted that he gave special treatment (in a bad way) not only to Drexler but other players as well: "I wouldn't give Clyde Drexler much leeway because of the way he reacted with me all the time. I thought at times he would give cheap shots to people, and I just would not allow it." I've never heard anybody else suggest that Drexler was a dirty or "cheap" player. O'Donnell further stated that he would make calls against other players who, in his opinion, complained too much: "I've done it many a time on the court, especially if someone made a remark I did not like. I blew the whistle to let them know who I was ... to be able to control a player and let him know I wasn't going to take anything from him, that Jake O'Donnell wasn't going to take any of his guff." Sorry, Jake, but nobody cares who you are or wants to notice you during a game and nobody is paying good money to attend a game to watch you eject a player because you don't like the way that he talks to you. When Drexler was informed of O'Donnell's remarks, he said, "It kind of tells everybody what he's about. All along I've felt that was true. You expect unbiased professionalism from a referee. It was obvious he couldn't provide that."

When all of the Donaghy allegations are out in the open then it will be possible to determine what steps the NBA needs to take regarding how it recruits, trains and grades its referees--but I can tell you right now that Hue Hollins and Jake O'Donnell are about the last people in the world whose thoughts I want to hear on this matter.

posted by David Friedman @ 4:07 AM

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Carnival of the NBA #47 is Up and Running!

Basketball Carnival #47 is up and running. This is the fifth straight Carnival that has used a post from 20 Second Timeout. You can read more about the previous Carnivals here and here.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:09 AM

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