BOSTON - Here's one of the dumbest statements in sports: You can't make that call.
Why am I bothering to write this? Because the day after Boston's Kevin Garnet was whistled for setting an illegal pick against Andre Iguodala with 10 seconds left in the Sixers' 82-81 Game 2 victory at Boston, it's amazing how so many people are whining that the referee who made the call shouldn't have done so at that juncture of the game.
Oh, no? Why the hell not?
TNT's Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal both vehemently disagreed with the call. However, I wonder how either would have reacted had they, in their playing days, been Iguodala trying to fight around Garnett (of course neither would never be out there chasing after a player like Pierce in their day, but that's another story) to stay with the guy whom everyone in the building knew was going to pull the trigger on the potential game-tying shot (at the time the Sixers led 78-75).
Am I the only person who disagrees with the thinking that there are times when a referee should just ignore a call – especially a blatant one, which is what Garnett's foul was – just so the athletes can decide the outcome of the game, rules be damned.
Of course you want to see the players' talents be the ultimate determiner of the outcome, but the rules are the rules. How many times have you heard athletes complain about the lack of consistency in officiating in the span of a game? A foul in the first quarter – and that infraction would have been whistled as such in that game – has to be a foul in the fourth quarter.
Officials are under enough scrutiny and pressure as it is to make the right call all the time, something that in and of itself is already impossible. They don't have time to debate, within a fraction of a second, whether or not they should determine whether or not to make a call that might influence the game's outcome.
Garnett put the call in its proper perspective in the aftermath."Mike [Smith] was in a position and he called it," Garnett said. "I'm not going to make a big stink about it. I think Danny [Crawford] had already given me a warning about how I was setting picks. I'm going to continue to set picks, I'm going to continue to get guys open but that wasn't, to me, the game. There were things up to that point in determining the game but that one play, Mike made a great call.
"I just thought in that situation you let the players decide the game but hey, if he felt like it was an illegal pick than that's what it was," he said.
Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer