A leader of men. A rock amidst turmoil. A player’s coach, and a gifted motivator. Doc Rivers certainly is a gifted fellow and a premier NBA coach. Among the most astonishing of his talents is the ability to suspend reality — no matter how illogical, his perception of events becomes impenetrable by facts and reason alike. Remarkable indeed.
Kendrick Perkins misses Game 7? Rivers not so subtly implies that it cost his team the title, remarking, “[a]ll I know is those 5 guys are undefeated.” That’s true in a literal sense. But wait, you say, Andrew Bynum (then a far superior player) played the entire series on one leg, which limited not only his effectiveness but his time on the court to a paltry 16 min per game. And it’s only fair to point out that it’s very possible, if not probable, that Doc’s 5 guys never win anything if Bynum had played at all during the
2008-2009 2008 Lakers-Celtics Finals. It’s right about here that it’s appropriate to point out that the Lakers 5 of Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom, and Gasol are also undefeated. It’s also literally true that the championship winning Dallas five of Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Marion, and Chandler are undefeated.
Doc didn’t leave his myopia behind in Boston. After last night’s loss to Oklahoma City, during the final minute of which Matt Barnes fouled Reggie Jackson, who consequently lost the ball out of bounds, Doc had this to say:
“It was our ball. Everybody knows it was our ball. Everybody knows it was our ball. The bottom line is, they thought it was a foul and they made up for it. In my opinion, let’s take away replay. Let’s take away the replay system. Because that’s our ball, we win the game. And we got robbed, because of that call. And it’s clear, everybody in the arena saw it. That’s our ball. Whether it was a foul or not — it was — but they didn’t call it.”
Right, it’s replay’s fault. Someone might remind Doc that there is no scenario – replay or no replay – in which his team gets (let alone deserves) possession. The officials called it OKC ball. Without replay, OKC gets the ball.
With replay, it’s obvious that Barnes fouled Jackson, and fairly conclusive that this caused the ball to touch Jackson last before going out of bounds. But, as Doc suggests, officials aren’t impervious to justice. Given the chance to review Barnes’ blatant foul in slow motion, as Doc accuses, the officials determined that it caused the ball to go out of bounds, and were thus willing to overlook the 90% likelihood that Jackson touched it last. The problem with replay isn’t officials vigilance in overlooking the letter of the law to get the call right. It’s the letter of law that purports to prevent them from doing so.
Damned if you do and damned if you don’t — do away with replay that is. With or without replay, we arrive at the very same result. But don’t try to tell Doc that. The bubble he occupies is sound proof: he won’t hear you.