The human side of calling fouls

I came across a really interesting read the other day I thought I’d share. It’s written by Tim Keown over at and I think it’s right on. Basically, he argues that the Celtics foul eight times on every play, knowing the officials can’t call all of them.

First, a tangent: Not that anybody cares, or should, but I’ve coached a lot of youth-league basketball. I’ve learned if your team plays with some semblance of structure, and if they’re pretty good with fundamentals, it sometimes works against them.

Here’s why: If the other team travels every third time it has the ball, or double-dribbles, oftentimes the referees shrug and say they can’t call everything or we’ll be here all night.

But if the team that plays well fundamentally takes an extra step, it almost always gets called. Why? Because it’s obvious and unusual and they clearly know better. It’s just human nature.

This is relevant to the Celtics-Lakers, kind of. The Celtics are the Eastern Conference tough-guy team. In the Finals, that’s their role. The Lakers are the finesse, flashy, keep-their-hands-to-themselves team from the West. That’s their role.

Is it even possible to expect the officials to ignore this, or somehow hold themselves above it? It’s a version of the same principle that allowed Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux to use their pinpoint control to convince the umpires to expand the width of the plate.

To read the whole story, click here:

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  • Anonymous

    As a Licensed Basketball Official I find the article totally preposterous. Having watched all the NBA Championship games, I find the only game that had questionable calls were Game 3. If Laker fans want to believe that Officiating is what costing them the Title, that is their prerogative. The truth is that Boston is the better team and showing why in all facets of the game.