Friday, May 26, 2006

Bavetta's Deaf And Blind Act Not Appreciated

What is it with basketball players in Michigan and timeouts?

I thought we had our allotment of timeout gaffes on the hardwood, for life, when Chris Webber called one his team did not have for the University of Michigan in the 1993 NCAA Finals.

Now we have another to add to the legacy: NOT being granted a timeout our team DID have.

I don't know what referee Dick Bavetta could possibly have been thinking Tayshaun Prince was saying to him when he looked right at the Pistons' forward in the closing 30 seconds of last night's Eastern Conference Finals Game 2. Prince, having trouble inbounding the ball with his team trying to hold on to a slippery five-point lead like it was a wet bar of soap, looked to Bavetta along the endline and mouthed something -- that much was clear from the TV cameras.

Do you think it might have been..."TIME OUT!"?

Bavetta told Prince that he didn't hear him, due to the crowd noise.

Fine, but he was looking RIGHT AT Prince when Tayshaun barked the words. What ELSE would he have been trying to tell Bavetta at that juncture?

"Hey, Dick -- how about the Post Bar after the game?"


Then, Prince said Bavetta apologized to him as the players walked off the court -- the Pistons' 92-88 win finally secured. But not for what you think. Not for failing to use common sense in a very crucial moment. For seconds later, Dwyane Wade hit a fallaway three-pointer to bring the Miami Heat within two points.

No, instead, Bavetta apologized to Prince for something he said to Tayshaun on the court after the final buzzer. This was Prince's version, as he was being interviewed by ESPN after the game.

Great -- so not only does Bavetta stick one up Prince's tailpipe, he says something regrettable afterward, for good measure. Something that requires an apology.

Had the Heat tied the game in regulation, or won it somehow -- even in overtime, the Prince non-timeout would be relived in Motown forever. It would sit alongside Isiah's pass to Larry Bird in the 1987 Conference Finals, and Rasheed Wallace's ill-timed trap that left Robert Horry open to blow Game 5 of last year's Finals. But unlike those two gaffes, this one was not the fault of the player.

Bavetta not granting Prince the timeout was inexcusable. He -- Bavetta -- is in his 31st season as an NBA referee. He knows that, as the endline official in that situation, the inbounding player has two options: toss the ball to a teammate, or call timeout. So when Prince was having difficulty, and he looked to Bavetta, who was looking directly at him, Tayshaun figured he'd take Option #2 -- the timeout.

"What's that? I can't hear you."

Give me a freaking break.

When stuff like that happens -- and I'm usually not a conspiracy theorist -- I start to wonder. And the things I wonder about would not make NBA Commissioner David Stern warm and fuzzy. I'll leave it at that.

Oh well -- Pistons win and square the series. The town can breathe again.

No thanks to Dick Bavetta. None at all.

1 comment:

Big Al said...

Great minds think alike! LOL