For starters, there is an unwritten rule in the NBA that the referees are to swallow their whistles in end-of-game situations unless a blatantly obvious call has to be made. That wasn't the case tonight.
Watching the play in real time directly in front of my seats, it appeared as though Manu Ginobili did, in fact, set his feet and that Carmelo Anthony did, in fact, commit a charging violation. After all, there's a reason why two referees - Haywoode Workman (a former NBA player no less) and Rodney Mott - called the play simultaneously. The refs, and those of us in the stands, didn't have the benefit of watching the play repeatedly on slow motion replay.
And that's exactly why the referees should have swallowed their whistles and why it's such a horrendously bad call.
Given how subjective most charging violation calls are to begin with, how could an NBA official possibly make such a close call to end a game? And, as an NBA aficionado aptly put it to me as we walked out of the Pepsi Center with our heads down: does anyone think a charge would have been called if Carmelo Anthony were one of the NBA's darlings like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Kevin Durant? No chance. I guess there's a reason why Melo leads the NBA in technical fouls, though.
Upon review of the play over and over again after I got home, it's clear the Ginobili stepped into Melo after Melo left his feet, Ginobili moved his body closer towards Melo and Ginobili flopped to boot. The man deserves a Golden Globe. But in real time, it didn't look that way. It looked like Melo charged. But unless the call is indisputably clear - which it wasn't - the referees have to stay out of it. Whether they like the player in question or not.
At the end of the game, Melo walked up to Mott and said: "You know that was bullshit".
Yes it was, Melo. Yes it was.
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