A Debacle Of The Highest Order!

AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Last night’s incomprehensible mental blunder from noted knucklehead J.R. Smith is getting most of the attention, but the more significant calamity to emerge from Game 1 on the NBA Finals has nothing to do with the players on the court. I will try to describe the situation without cracking my keyboard over the corner of my desk.

With 40 seconds left and the Warriors trailing by two, feather-minded Kevin Durant dribbled quickly past his defender toward the left block. Waiting patiently for him in the lane was the icon LeBron James, who abandoned Draymond Green because LeBron is aware of Durant’s desperate yearning to be loved by Warriors fans (who prefer their homegrown stars to him, the sad mercenary) and thus would try to be the hero rather than pass to Green for a game-tying dunk. LeBron, who has yet to make a tactical miscalculation on a basketball court, absorbed the contact from an out-of-control Durant and successfully drew an offensive foul. It was a breathtaking moment: The sport’s greatest player all but sealed a Finals victory for his severely overmatched team by briefly turning into Nick Collison.

But! Because LeBron’s feet were within a stone’s throw of the restricted area (where charges go to die), officials were allowed to review the play in its entirety -- not just the location of LeBron’s feet (well outside the restricted area) but also his hip movement, tax returns, and if he has ever spat in public.

Of course, the officials reversed the call because LeBron was moving slightly to the left as Durant began his “shooting motion” (I call it a “fouling motion” because I am full of integrity and accuracy is important to me). This is akin to getting pulled over for a broken taillight and then arrested for possession of a schedule II narcotic with intent to distribute but it’s actually just a bag of powdered sugar for the cookies you’re making for your niece’s birthday party and also your taillight works fine what the heck officer?

Reviewing judgement calls with slow-motion replay is ludicrous, as you know. Instead of reacting to what happened in real time (an offensive player plowed through a defender occupying space his in path), the world spends three minutes parsing the subtleties of the defender’s positioning: Did his hips shift slightly while the offensive player was in the air? Is his right toe planted firmly in the hardwood or is he planning some sort of heel pirouette? Are his shoulders square and his intentions pure? And on and on. One wonders if any drawn charge can withstand the scrutiny of slow-motion replay.

Our only solace comes when we remember that there are probably infinite universes, which means that somewhere justice was served: the call was not overturned, LeBron drilled a three over Durant’s outstretched arm as the shot clock expired, and the Cavs took the first step toward pulling off the impossible upset of the cowardly superteam from Oakland. This is a pleasant thought which may help ease the pain in the weeks between now and Game 2. |ES|