Basketball fans don't particularly like the NBA's officiating, at various times calling it "rigged," "a conspiracy," or "really bad and it makes me want to vomit." For the most part, the league tries to ignore these complaints and goes about its daily business. Sometimes, though, the calls are bad enough that they have to apologize or correct a call after the fact. When they do, they post a correction on NBA.com.
That's exactly what they did on Friday afternoon in response to a key call in overtime of Wednesday night's Bulls-Raptors game in Toronto. The Bulls won the game 107-105, but a late call could have swung the outcome. With 1.7 seconds left, Joakim Noah was whistled for a foul on Amir Johnson as he went up to attempt a game-tying lay-up. The officials, however, called it a non-shooting foul, and Jose Calderon was forced to heave up a desperation three on the ensuing inbounds play. As the video above from YouTube user Kevin Rashidi shows in frame-by-frame detail, Johnson very clearly should have gone to the line.
So the NBA apologized today. Check out the full text after the jump:
With one second remaining in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls-Toronto Raptors game on January 16, officials called a foul on Chicago’s Joakim Noah as Toronto’s Amir Johnson gathered the ball while driving to the basket. The officials ruled the foul was on the floor but upon review at the league office, the video replay confirmed that the foul should have been called a shooting foul with Johnson receiving two free throws. Click video here.
The missed call won't have a huge effect on the standings. For one thing, Johnson still would have had to make two free throws only to tie the game, and as a 70.4 percent shooter he's no sure thing. But that doesn't mean the call doesn't matter, and it could become meaningful over the course of the season. At 14-25, the Raptors aren't exactly in the thick of a playoff race, but the difference between being 5.5 and 6.5 games out in mid-January isn't insignificant. It also matters for the Bulls, who are currently locked into a tie with the Brooklyn Nets for fourth in the East. Depending on what happens the rest of the season, this game could be the difference in determining homecourt advantage in a home playoff series.
The broader issue, of course, is that NBA officials should get calls like this one correct in the first place. An apology is nice, but it doesn't really change the fact that the Raptors got screwed.