NBA to release 'last 2 minutes' reports on crunch-time calls
NEW YORK (AP) The NBA will begin revealing whether it determined referees' crunch-time calls to be right or wrong.
Starting Monday and continuing throughout the playoffs, the league will release play-by-play reports of all calls and relevant no-calls in the final minutes of close games. Such information had been shared only internally.
The assessments will be released by 5 p.m. the day after each game and will stand as the league's comment on whether the most-disputed calls were correct. The reports will focus on the last two minutes of games that were within five points at the two-minute mark and all of any overtime periods.
Each play is reviewed by a senior basketball operations manager or senior referee manager. The reports will say how the play was graded correct or incorrect and will be accompanied by a comment and video link. The reports will be posted at NBA.com/official and also on the league's media site.
"Our policy in the past was pretty much to wait until we had something that was controversial enough to really garner a lot of interest and we didn't think that that was a practical approach," NBA executive vice president of referee operations Mike Bantom said. "And it also wasn't very fair because they always tended to be errors that were made, so we tried to come up with a system that would allow us to provide some insight into our process and set a criteria that would allow us to be more standardized and more consistent."
Bantom said referees' input about the old policy was a factor in the development of the new one and they welcomed the change from the league announcing only when calls were incorrect.
"Our prior practice of commenting only about mistakes that they made was a bone for them, something we didn't feel that was fair to them and also something that they weren't happy about as well," Bantom said. "So I think this is a solution that puts them in a much better light, doesn't hide the fact that they are human and will make mistakes, but also points out the fact that the overwhelming majority of the calls that they get correct."
The referees union later released a statement on Twitter about its involvement.
"We did not participate in the elaboration of this process and we cannot evaluate its effect until after it has been implemented," said Lee Seham, the general counsel for the National Basketball Referees Association.
The NBA has expanded the information it made public in recent years, from announcing referee assignments to issuing to the media the point of emphasis memos it sends to teams. The league opened an instant replay center this season and posts online video of the replays used by officials during their reviews.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he liked the transparency releasing the reports provides the fans, but wonders if it will impact officials.
"They're not perfect," Rivers said. "I'm going to tell them when they're not perfect. I tell them that all the time. I tell them enough, and they tell me to sit down.
"I just think they have a hard enough job. They're going to be scared to almost blow a whistle now."
Bantom said he never foresaw releasing the "last two minutes" reports, but believes it will benefit both the fans and the officials.
"I think it goes back to our initiatives to try to be more transparent about what we do with our officials program. I think our fans have a lot of interest in understanding or at least we have an interest, too, in helping them understand how our rules are applied so that people don't have a misperception about a particular call or non-call," Bantom said. "So we think if we are consistent in disclosing them, we will give them a greater appreciation for both how difficult the job is that our officials do and how good they are at it."
AP freelance writer Clay Bailey in Memphis, Tennessee, contributed to this report.