Everyone is getting this play wrong. Was there a foul on the play? No. Did the refs on the court make the wrong call? No.
So who is to blame?
Let’s find out.
First of all, let’s talk about whether Reggie Jackson was fouled. Some say he was hit on the hand and that this should’ve sent Jackson to the line. Let’s look:
I could cite the NBA rulebook here: “The hand is considered ‘Part of the ball’ when it is in contact with the ball.” That would cover this pretty well, and Barnes appears to touch the ball and Jackson’s hand at least simultaneously. He could’ve actually touched the ball with a fingertip first – impossible to say.
But there is no foul here.
Others have said that Barnes committed a blocking foul. Let’s look at that:
No upper body contact whatsoever – there is not much contact having to be absorbed by Jackson – and the ball was already jarred loose before Jackson’s knee shoots up into Barnes’ groin. (And perhaps Jackson raised his knee into Barnes on purpose?)
I don’t see a foul here either.
Okay. So now let’s get down to how the refs mistakenly awarded the ball to Oklahoma City when it was clearly knocked out by Reggie Jackson.
To understand why, first we must read the explanation from crew chief referee Tony Brothers:
When the ball goes out of bounds, the ball was awarded to Oklahoma City. We got review the play. We saw two replays. The two replays we saw were from the overhead camera showing down, and one from under the basket showing the same angle but from a different view. And from these two replays, it was inconclusive as to who the ball went out of bounds off of. When it’s inconclusive we have to go with the call on the floor.
The key element from that:
The two replays we saw were from the overhead camera showing down, and one from under the basket showing the same angle but from a different view…
So let’s look at those two angles.
The overhead camera showing down:
From under the basket:
Based on the above two angles, Tony Brothers was absolutely correct – they ARE inconclusive. So the refs made the correct call with the angles that were presented to them.
This question then remains: Why weren’t the refs shown the single most important and definitive angle? This one:
So who is to blame? The person responsible for this miscarriage of justice is whoever was queuing up the replays for the refs on the floor.
Who is the replay operator? Is it a ref in a booth? Is it a keyboard jockey who works for the league? Or do they work for the Thunder? Did they withhold this angle on purpose because they didn’t want the refs to see it, or was it just an oversight?
The culprit remains anonymous, but they should be reprimanded.
And that leads us to the larger issue here: One thing that needs to be addressed immediately by the NBA is a guarantee that the ref crews get to see EVERY AVAILABLE ANGLE of the play under review. There can be no exceptions. They have to make this a rule immediately if it already isn’t.
So, yes, the Clippers did get royally screwed. Now whether they deserved it or not is another matter.