Brooklyn Nets and the futility of the Last Two-Minute Report

Brooklyn Nets Shabazz Napier (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Shabazz Napier (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

In its official Last Two-Minute Report for Thursday’s loss by the Brooklyn Nets at San Antonio, the NBA confirmed Shabazz Napier was fouled on the last play.

The Brooklyn Nets got some great news Friday when the NBA announced in its Last Two-Minute Report that Shabazz Napier was fouled by LaMarcus Aldridge on the final play in the closing seconds of the Nets’ loss Thursday to the San Antonio Spurs.

Great! Let’s get them all on planes and head back to San Antonio so Napier can take his free throws and tie this thing up!

Wait … what? That’s not how this works? The NBA is just saying in PDF form a long-winded version of “our bad”?

Anyone who saw the end of game sequence saw this:

No call. Game over. San Antonio says see ya next year, Brooklyn.

But in its report issued Friday, the league — in its assessment of the officiating — said:

"“Aldridge (SAS) makes contact to the body of Napier (BKN) during the shooting motion that affects his jump shot attempt.”"

Ya don’t say! And here I was, thinking Napier had been caught in some sort of gravitational anomaly that forced him to suddenly lurch forward and fall down. Thanks for clearing that up, NBA!

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I get it. The NBA is trying to show transparency in its officiating of games that are within five points in the final two minutes.

The league has taken some hits over the years for its officiating. Dick Bavetta spent much of his 39-season tenure as an NBA referee known unofficially as the “fixer” for Commissioner David Stern.

The popular conspiracy theory was that when Stern wanted a particular result, Bavetta would magically appear to work that game.

Do I believe it? No. But others did, strongly, and coupled with the stain of an NBA official going to jail for colluding with gamblers, as Tim Donaghy was convicted of in 2008, it left the NBA with one hell of a black eye and an even bigger image problem.

When Donaghy’s attorney filed allegations that Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers was rigged by two of the game officials, that served as confirmation for Kings fans who swore for years and would tell anyone who would listen than the fix had been in.

That gave the NBA a huge credibility problem.

But the Last Two-Minute Report is not the answer to that problem. Publicly admitting blown calls that ultimately affect the outcome of games without any process in place for redress is the epitome of futility.

Tell the teams you screwed up. The public admission in the form of the official report serves no other purpose than to annoy the beejeezus out of fan bases who already knew the call had been either missed or incorrect.

When rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies kicked out his left leg to draw a foul against Brooklyn’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson that he should not have been awarded in the Nets’ infamous double-overtime loss on Nov. 30, nobody needed a fancy written report to know Brooklyn got jobbed.

That Memphis game included a bunch of incorrect or missed calls, most of which went against the Nets. When I read the report, my response was a somewhat frustrated, “Yeah, tell me something I didn’t know.”

Officiating isn’t going to be perfect. The human element of the officials is part of the game and always has been. Calls will be missed. Calls will be made when they shouldn’t be. It’s part of the game and always has been.

Publicly admitting it after the fact might make the NBA feel like it’s meeting some sort of moral obligation to be transparent in its officiating process.

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But in reality, all it does is piss people off.