One of the more intriguing stories from the NBA Finals surfaced before last night's game in Orlando, when Lakers coach Phil Jackson admitted his team benefited from a bad call in Game 2.
The bad call isn't the intriguing story line - bad calls are part of the game.
But a coach admitting the ref blew one in his own team's favor may be unprecedented.
Jackson said Lakers center Pau Gasol should have been called for goaltending on Orlando guard Courtney Lee's blown layup in the final second of regulation in Game 2 on Sunday night.
Gasol's right hand grazed the net and his fingers hit the rim while he trying to block Lee's miss, a shot that would have given Orlando a win and tied the series at 1-1.
But Lee's shot caromed off the backboard and the front of the rim and the teams went to overtime tied. The Lakers went on to win, 101-96.
Jackson, however, cited a rarely called infraction committed by Gasol.
"It's called basket interference," the coach said. "Even if you hit the net supposedly in the process, that's part of it, but that rule is kind of archaic. It isn't called in this day and age as much, but when we were in high school - that was something a high school ref might call, basket interference."
Jackson was asked if the correct call was made.
"According to the rules, it was not," he said. "It wasn't made."
Informed of Jackson's comments, the NBA's director of officials, Bernie Fryar, said the call on the court was correct and there was no goaltending.
Rule No. 11, section I-A (i) of the NBA rules says a player shall not "vibrate the rim or backboard so as to cause the ball to make an unnatural bounce."
So the call boiled down to whether Gasol made the rim vibrate.
Good trade. Columnist Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News points out that the delaying tactics of Minnesota's Kevin Williams and Pat Williams (no relation) have clearly benefited the Vikings.
The two defensive tackles were suspended for four games last December for testing positive for a banned substance. But they obtained a court injunction allowing them to play until the appeals were final.
By doing so, the two tackles helped the Vikings win three of their last four games and win the NFC North title.
Now that a Federal Court has ruled against them, the Williamses probably will be suspended for the first four games of the 2009 season, when the Vikings open with teams that finished a combined 17-47 in 2008: Detroit (0-16), Cleveland (4-12), Green Bay (6-10) and San Francisco (7-9).
New rule for new schedule. Gosselin also predicted a new rule on injuries if the NFL goes to an 18-game schedule.
Under current rules, a player who is placed on injured reserve is lost for the season.
But, wrote Gosselin, "with an extended regular season, I can see the NFL re-establishing a short-term injured reserve list of, say, six games. So a player placed on this short-term injured reserve list in August could come back in October."
Makes sense to me.