Blow­ing the whis­tle on need­less ref show

More young of­fi­cials means more game-chang­ing over­re­ac­tion

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - DOUG SMITH SPORTS RE­PORTER

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween NBA play­ers and game of­fi­cials is un­like any other in the big four North Amer­i­can pro­fes­sional sports leagues.

There is more in­ter­ac­tion, like quick con­ver­sa­tions. There are re­la­tion­ships that have been built — good and bad — over long ca­reers on both sides, and the give-and-take can be a cru­cial part of the game.

Rap­tors fans saw it first­hand this week when Kyle Lowry was ejected in rapier-like fash­ion by a young of­fi­cial, J.B. DeRosa, who hasn’t quite mas­tered the del­i­cate bal­ance needed to calm down in­tense mo­ments of anger and frus­tra­tion.

He should have walked away and left Lowry to vent with­out pay­ing close at­ten­tion, a point Rap­tors coach Dwane Casey made quickly after the game.

Lowry also has to share some of the blame, be­cause no one else knows pre­cisely what he said or how he said it, but he kept go­ing a few sec­onds too long. There was enough time be­tween the first and se­cond tech­ni­cal foul for him to re­al­ize what kind of trou­ble he was in, and the con­se­quences he’d face if he kept it up.

What was miss­ing was that bal­ance be­tween ar­gu­ments — those spur-ofthe-mo­ment out­bursts — and some­one, usu­ally the of­fi­cial, tak­ing the higher road.

“The veteran of­fi­cial calls a tech (and) walks away, be­cause he un­der­stands the mo­ment, the frus­tra­tion level,” Casey said.

The trou­ble is, the num­ber of truly veteran of­fi­cials is dwin­dling (of the 64 reg­u­lar refs, only 20 of them have 20 or more years of ser­vice, and 28 have yet to of­fi­ci­ate for 10 years) and be­cause there is so much in­ter­ac­tion be­tween player and ref, it takes time — a lot of time — to gain the nec­es­sary ex­pe­ri­ence to defuse a sit­u­a­tion.

“Back in the old days, of­fi­cials wouldn’t even ac­knowl­edge you. They wouldn’t even talk to you un­less they were try­ing to put you in your place,” Casey said. “Now they do a good job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing when they need to. There are cer­tain sit­u­a­tions (where) I think they should walk away and un­der­stand what the level of frus­tra­tion in the mo­ment — in the game — is and han­dle it. That’s where a veteran of­fi­cial has a better feel.” Some day they’ll grow into the job. “We’ve got some good young of­fi­cials that need ex­pe­ri­ence, like play­ers, like coaches,” Casey said. “And they’re grow­ing. They’re go­ing to make mis­takes. We un­der­stand that.

“We have a good group of veteran of­fi­cials that are good lead­ers, good men­tors, that have to lead in those sit­u­a­tions.”

RENE JOHN­STON/TORONTO STAR

Ref J.B. DeRosa hit Rap­tor Kyle Lowry with a pair of tech­ni­cals in Sun­day’s game against the Wizards — an au­to­matic ejec­tion.

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