Denial of the Hawks’ protest is instead justice denied

OK, it's official. He DOES get all the calls. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

OK, it's official. LeBron James DOES get all the calls. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

OK, now we know. The NBA does play favorites. Some folks have claimed as much for decades, but we in Atlanta have just been handed a heapin’ helpin’ of proof.

The NBA denied the Hawks’ protest of their Dec. 30th loss in Cleveland. According to the league’s official release, “Commissioner [David] Stern determined that the shot clock error did not have a clear impact on the game’s outcome and therefore did not justify the extraordinary remedy of granting the protest and overturning the game’s result.”

To which we say: Is he serious? The Hawks were mistakenly given 14 seconds, down from the customary 24, to shoot when they led by a point inside the final two minutes. That’s not a judgment call. That’s a fact easily determined by watching the replay or checking the play-by-play.

The 24-second timekeeper admitted his clock didn’t recycle after Mo Williams missed a jumper and Al Horford rebounded. Lead ref Ken Mauer ignored Mike Woodson’s protest after the Hawks were forced to rush through a possession that ended in a Josh Smith turnover, which triggered a Cleveland possession that wound up with the Cavaliers taking the lead.

There’s no way of knowing whether the Hawks would have won had the game been timed correctly, but the NBA has decreed there’s no need for fairness to be brought to bear. The Hawks had a strong case and were rebuffed. And we in Atlanta are left to wonder — especially in light of the 51.9 seconds the Hawks were forced to replay against Miami in 2008 — how Stern would have ruled had LeBron’s team been the victim.

I’d like to say he’d have done exactly the same. I’d like to say that. But I’m not sure I’d believe it.

113 comments Add your comment

theZaZaGuy

January 19th, 2010
4:22 pm

Not surprised. I believe everything Donaghy said.

Mark Bradley

January 19th, 2010
4:24 pm

Don’t know what the Hawks’ brass will say publicly, ZaZa, but inside I’m sure they’re seething.

Reid Adair

January 19th, 2010
4:25 pm

“Commissioner [David] Stern determined that the shot clock error did not have a clear impact on the game’s outcome and therefore did not justify the extraordinary remedy of granting the protest and overturning the game’s result.”

Translation: “…the shot clock error did not have a clear impact on THE CAVALIERS WINNING THE GAME.”

What a joke. You called it, Mark.

Gilley

January 19th, 2010
4:26 pm

What ZAZAGuy said ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

@wbarker

January 19th, 2010
4:27 pm

the media needs to make a big noise about this to try and get the NBA back in line. Mark, can you get this on TNT? What about Barkley? Though not always credible, he’s got a big mouth…

nickz

January 19th, 2010
4:28 pm

Yeah, this is ridiculous…although not surprising…

Jose C-seco

January 19th, 2010
4:31 pm

See cheating is allowed in other sports too!

theZaZaGuy

January 19th, 2010
4:32 pm

I hope the hawks have a “red dawn” moment, where they turn the anger into something else. It’s one thing to tweak games here and there, which to me is the moral equivalent to a grease payment. But to create an environment where players like LeBron and Kobe live in a “bubble” and get a sense of entitlement, will turn fans/season ticket holders like me off. We’ll see…

Csquared

January 19th, 2010
4:33 pm

you KNOW what would have happened if King James and his Cavs had been forced to play with a short clock (Who know what might have happened in 10 seconds? we’ve seen some downright miracles from the Hawks in less time than that recently). The only difference would have been they would have caught it that night and forced a replay. And until it happens against someone like Kobe or Dwight, NOTHING is going to change.

Hawk n the Ham

January 19th, 2010
4:33 pm

David Stern is worse than Tim Donaghy.

Absolutely PATHETIC!!

74Dawg

January 19th, 2010
4:36 pm

…why I quit watching the NBA am long time ago. I think while Dominique was still playing. Stern should schedule a cage match between himself and Vince McMahan…BTW-THANKS for following up Mark,I was wondering what happened (actually pretty sure what would happen) and if it would be swept under the rug.

Ben

January 19th, 2010
4:38 pm

Wow this is a friggin joke! Stern is a laughing stock. Give me a break. how can you make the Hawks replay that 50sec. when a fat, sloppy Shaq was fouled out having no impact on the game? It’s clear the NBA is rigged and I too believe everything Donaghy had to say. Stern is a flat out cheat!

Hawk Str8Talk

January 19th, 2010
4:40 pm

Seriously, we all need to get over that game. I am fine with logging the protest, but I’m tired of Coach Woodson complaining about it. I’d rather him tell the troops – ‘hey, you see this is why you have to play harder and beat the Cavs by even more next time b/c they don’t want us to beat LeBron, so no more selfish offense and harder defense’. I’d rather that and use this as a motivational chip – the way we use Boston as a hill to climb. Sorry, it sucks but it ain’t changing our season, so let’s all let it ride.

AndyC

January 19th, 2010
4:40 pm

Did the SEC football refs work this game? Sounds like the NBA is pulling an SEC by protecting the big name players and teams. Doesn’t Stern want Cleveland in the Finals?

backstabber

January 19th, 2010
4:46 pm

david stern has always believed in fellatio when it comes to his superstars. Nothings changed.

MagnaCarterGT

January 19th, 2010
4:53 pm

Injustice in the NBA is something Mavericks fans like myself know all too well.

NoleRick

January 19th, 2010
4:53 pm

Its not even mentioned on ESPN…no surprises here my friends….

Tim Tebow's Tears

January 19th, 2010
4:59 pm

Absolute robbery…. Anyone want on the I HATE LEBRON AND HIS DADDY STERN bandwagon???!!! Can’t stand them both

Ryan

January 19th, 2010
5:01 pm

I don’t know.

We are assuming they would have scored with the extra 10 seconds and that would have changed everything?

Seems to me like it’s the equivalent of 5th down Colorado. They didn’t replay that ending and it was far more egregious.error.

Kent Hrbek pulled Ron Gant off the bag. They didn’t replay that game either.

AJ

January 19th, 2010
5:02 pm

I dont understand the reasoning other than playing favorites. It does not hurt anything to play that extra time with a working shot clock during their next trip to Cleveland. A clock malfunction is more of a reason to replay the final part of the game than the Shaq fiasco a couple years back. Stern and the refs should be held accountable.

Cleveland Bob

January 19th, 2010
5:06 pm

You pathetic little crybabies!!! The game is over!! Atlanta did not win, would not have won!! Watch it one more time with both eyes open. Momentum was on Clevelands side. Atlanta was going to lose no matter what. Cleveland could have given Alanta a dozen more chances and you still would have lost. Atlanta chokes in the fourth quarter all the time. Why do you think all real NBA fans call your team THE ATLANTA CHOKES!!!!!!! Grow up and cry about something else. Like the pathetic city you live in. Team sucks, city sucks and the fans suck!!! Get a life and move to a better city.

theZaZaGuy

January 19th, 2010
5:07 pm

Not surprising. I think there are only two things that could change the culture in the NBA.

1. A mass national protest by season ticket holders where they tear up their renewals unless Stern resigns.
2. An anti-trust and/or RICO investigation by the DOJ which will lead to subpoenas, which will lead to all the communications between stern and his cronies public, which will lead to his resignation due to public outcry.

Fat chance either of these two things would happen.

Can’t some of these owners get together and buy a congressman or something?

Herschel Talker

January 19th, 2010
5:08 pm

A first round choke is coming.

theZaZaGuy

January 19th, 2010
5:08 pm

Hey Cleveland Bob,
You say our city sucks? At least our rivers don’t catch on fire and our women don’t look like canadian men.

Mr. Chomp!

January 19th, 2010
5:08 pm

Ridiculous – well stated Mark. If this was the Lakers – I am convinced the outcome would be different. Screw the NBA – I have had it with this league. If the commish does not care on the fairness and integrity of the game – then neither do I. No more NBA for me.

Chris

January 19th, 2010
5:10 pm

So, David Stern says that a turnover with less than 2 minutes to go in a close game (that the team losing the ball was winning) has no clear impact on the final score? I suppose if the Cavs had won by 1, 2 or 3 points instead of 5 the Hawks would have a better case to make. But that ignores what anybody who has watched the end of a close basketball game knows – a small lead can balloon as the losing team is forced to take more desperate shots and foul to stay in the game.

Unfortunately, Stern’s pathetic duck will only lead to this problem happening again, because by pretending that nothing happened (when something clearly did, and there is no guarantee that the Hawks would have won with a full 24 second clock) no guidance is issued in the future for what to do with this kind of event. The Hawks immediately protested the result of the play to the lead official who did nothing. And what about the timekeeper who claims he tried to reset the clock twice but let the game go on when nothing happened. Shouldn’t the official be empowered to look at a tape and order a redo (similar to how they now review 3 point shots) or the timekeeper be empowered to blow the horn as soon as he witnesses his erorr?

Seeing as how NBA refs constantly review tape to add or delete time from the official clock, this whole episode just smells of favoritism. For the love of the game, I only hope the Cavs or Lakers are on the wrong side of a misstep so that we can finally get some justice. Oh wait, already happened to the 2008 Heat. So we’re left with just a double standard.

Cat Shabazz

January 19th, 2010
5:13 pm

Screw this – it’s about the integrity of the game.

NBA has favorites?……you think???????????

Hawks need to suck it up and move on.

Woodson needs to focus on today and tomorrow – Hawks been average of late after the big start.

maden

January 19th, 2010
5:16 pm

WOW….real classy Cleveland Bob…

Brent

January 19th, 2010
5:17 pm

Hey Mark, at this torrid pace of 4 columns a day you should break last years record easily. You keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

mike (cleveland)

January 19th, 2010
5:18 pm

1. No Hawks players or coaches made mention of the clock malfunction until after the turnover had been committed. Why weren’t the coaches or players pointing this out to the refs?

2. The clock didn’t seem to affect the ballhandling or decision making my the Hawks players (can’t remember exactly who). It would have been a turnover had the clock reset.

3. Maybe Hawk fans should be more upset about blowing a 17pt lead. Enjoy being in the class of ‘not quite good enough’.

wxwax

January 19th, 2010
5:19 pm

I’ve lost all faith in NBA officiating.

If even half the allegations in Tim Donaghy’s book are true, the NBA is all about promoting the game, not true and fair competition.

It’s time for David Stern to step down. He’s become corrupt.

mike (cleveland)

January 19th, 2010
5:19 pm

Also, the Hawks should be the last team complaining about a clock operator…..

Steve

January 19th, 2010
5:20 pm

truly amazing. i can’t believe they granted the protest to the Heat and not here. I hope this gets circulated beyond this blog.

Cleveland Bob's sweats pants

January 19th, 2010
5:23 pm

Please wash us Cleveland Bob and stop wearing us to your corner bar, Taco Bell, and to the unemployment office. We aren’t meant to be worn every day of the week- and we’d also like to request that you wear us with underwear… clean underwear- we hate your bacon stains. Finally, losing 300lbs would help too.

Raph

January 19th, 2010
5:23 pm

This is bull crap. I never thought we had a chance to win it, but man.

wxwax

January 19th, 2010
5:23 pm

Mike (cleveland), thanks for mentioning the Hawks clock problems. You’ll remember that the Hawks had to replay the last minutes of that game.

That’s why today’s decision by the NBA is inconsistent and favors the “name”team.

James

January 19th, 2010
5:29 pm

You Cleveland fans realize your city hasn’t won a championship in 45 years and the Cavs won’t win again this year. Enjoy the star treatment while it lasts. Next year LeBron will be in New York and you’ll be watching the Anderson Varejao-Mo Williams show win 20 games.

Bob Euker

January 19th, 2010
5:31 pm

Cleveland hasn’t won anything since Willie Mays Hayes and the Allstate commercial guy won the world series (oh wait, that wasn’t real). Seriously, that place is worse than Bartertown!! And yes, unless the Hawks play a perfect game, they can’t overcome Cleveland’s height and Bron’s calls.

mike (cleveland)

January 19th, 2010
5:35 pm

So I guess basketball players are taught to throw the ball at the opposing players hands when the shot clock is winding down…..

Sonny Clusters

January 19th, 2010
5:35 pm

Once, we was playing ball and Jeff had two strikes on him after two pitches and they threw him a pitch behind his back and to his left and low and he swung at it so hard and missed that the umpire hollered out, “strike two!” and the other coach come running out of his dugout and said, “strike three! strike three!” and the umpire glared at him and told him to get back in his dugout and not say another word and instead of being out, Jeff dug back in and winked over at Coach in the dugout and said, “now, they’ll pay” and he looked up and the pitcher threw another one across the plate and about chest high and Jeff took a real hard swing at it and we looked up and saw that he’d missed the ball again and the umpire said, “you’re out” and we was waiting to see what Jeff was going to do and he just grinned and walked back to the dugout and the moral of this story is that sometimes you can be wrong (like the umpire) and everything works out anyway like it would have if you hadn’t been wrong. We was always saying that.

singndablues

January 19th, 2010
5:35 pm

Nothing new here. It’s been obvious for years that the refs give deference to the “name’ teams and their stars. The motivation behind this bias will never be truly known or proven. That’s what keeps the NBA a step down from other legitimate pro sports and only slightly above pro wrestling as an honest competitive sport.

Nate

January 19th, 2010
5:37 pm

Typical of Stern and the nba. Also the reason why I won’t pay a dime to see this crap. It’s a fixed league if there ever was one. Sorry hawks but I can’t and will not pay to make this league profit until every team has a level playing field from the top level.

That cleveland series was a total joke. It’s funny how the nba has to have big name players and cities in their finals. ie boston, la, ny, chic. The nfl? New Orleans and Indy would be great or any team aside from maybe oakland. lol. That’s the difference in the leagues. The nba is a joke.

Sonny Clusters

January 19th, 2010
5:38 pm

We was watching that game and saw the shot clock was messed up and we watched it on television and knew it was messed up and we saw the officials huddle and discuss it and when they didn’t change it we was pretty sure it was never going to get changed. Stinky Wintes was that way about uniform shirts.

Jesse

January 19th, 2010
5:42 pm

IF IT DOESN’T IMPACT THE GAME, WHY DON’T THE HAWKS SIMPLY PICK IMPORTANT SPOTS AND GIVE THE OTHER TEAM 14 SECONDS TO MAKE A SHOT INSTEAD OF 24?

The NBA is a joke – I want to like it, but I can’t.

dap01

January 19th, 2010
5:53 pm

Thanks Mark. Finally someone has the nerve to say the obvious. The shot clock in that game was not the only injustice. The refs were favoring Lebron so much that the entire NBA game is sickening.

Benjamin

January 19th, 2010
6:25 pm

Man, what a horrible call by the NBA — it was clearly the momentum-shifter in that game, and completely took the wind out of our sails.

We were inside a couple minutes, with the ball and the lead, and a factor well beyond our control played a direct role in essentially forcing a turnover. If that cannot be protested, I don’t know what can.

Benjamin

January 19th, 2010
6:26 pm

mike (cleveland)

January 19th, 2010
5:18 pm

1. No Hawks players or coaches made mention of the clock malfunction until after the turnover had been committed. Why weren’t the coaches or players pointing this out to the refs?

2. The clock didn’t seem to affect the ballhandling or decision making my the Hawks players (can’t remember exactly who). It would have been a turnover had the clock reset.

3. Maybe Hawk fans should be more upset about blowing a 17pt lead. Enjoy being in the class of ‘not quite good enough’.

—-

Be honest, Mike. If the shoe were on the other foot, what would your reaction really be?

It’s comments like this that make me hope LeBron James is a Knick next year. And I can’t stand the Knicks.

collegeballfan

January 19th, 2010
6:27 pm

This is all the proof needed that the NBA plays favorites. Had that been the Nets instead of Cleveland, the protest would have been upheld.

The next time the commissioner shows up he needs a coke in the face.

lanier

January 19th, 2010
6:33 pm

The NBA has had favorites for years. Hence its fixed. Anybody remember Jack Madden the ref from Alpharetta no less who officated many of the Hawks close losses in the late 80s early 90s.
If not ask Fratello or Neke

heartofdarkness

January 19th, 2010
6:43 pm

I got a ninety-nine percent (99%) winning record when David Stern is “commish-orating”. The guy’s more reliable than Donaghy.