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.