So it looks like this whole referee situation isn’t a top priority to get fixed as David Stern has dug his heels in and is standing firm with the replacement referees. The funny thing is that there is a lot of support for the regular referees from the players…I wonder why?
Let’s not for a second pretend that the players are concerned about playing better basketball, having a better flow to the game, etc. What the players are concerned about is having the game refereed like it is supposed to be. When LeBron does his crab walk or whatever the hell he calls it, he might actually get called for travelling. When Shaq gets the ball and just starts reversing over some poor dude trying to play D on him, he might just get called for an offensive foul. The players (especially the star players) want to get their preferential treatment and they think they may not if they are dealing with replacement refs.
There is also the argument the other way, that you might actually see a few more things that are either missed or just let go simply because of a lack of expertise, but also because of replacement refs being intimidated by star players, star coaches or even the crowd. There is some merit in this, but I am guessing that you will probably see more calls made against players as the refs want to make sure that they look like they are in control of the game. They don’t want to look like they are in over their heads, so they are going to go with the old “I calls’em as I sees’em” mentality.
What I love right now is how players are coaches are being fined for criticizing replacement officials in the preseason. If there was ever a calculated move by players and coaches alike, it has been the criticism of replacement refs in the preseason. They figure that if they make enough noise about the situation now, that if they make it look like the refereeing is really bad, it will put more pressure on David Stern. But here’s the thing: the longer this plays out, the better it is for David Stern, because the more experience the refs are going to get calling these games and they are going to get more familiar with the players. Pretty soon, they won’t be replacement refs, they will just be refs.
Basketball is one of those sports where there are so many questionable calls made every game anyway, that I don’t think the majority of fans are going to notice that much of a difference. There have been plenty of games where I have been completely confused while watching a game, wondering why a ref blew the whistle or sometimes why he did not. I don’t think that is really going to change with the replacement refs. There will still be enough to complain about and I suppose there may be a game here or there where the Raptors will collapse and the refs will provide us with enough of an excuse to try to work a way out for the Raptors sloppy play. It’ll be just like old times.