I come to you not as a Spurs fan or a 76ers hater, but as a basketball fan. A fan of the integrity of the game. A fan of honor and of truth. And there is no truth to the final score of Monday night’s game between San Antonio and Philadelphia.
In the final seconds of the 3rd quarter, 76er guard Josh Richardson threw up a 3-point shot just before the 24 second shot clock expired. As the ball fell short, Joel Embiid tipped the ball up and off the backboard, then rebounded his own miss and shot the ball to score 2 points for the 76ers with 1.1 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Great play by Embiid? Not so fast, my friend. Josh Richardson’s shot was the one that was trying to beat the shot clock. It was an air ball. Embiid rebounded an air ball after the 24 second buzzer sounded. If a shot is attempted after the shot clock expires and doesn’t hit the rim, that is a shot clock violation. We all know this. The only people who apparently did not care were the three referees assigned to officiate the game.
To make the 2 points even more infuriating is that the 76ers final margin of victory was exactly 2 points. This must be made right.
To show everybody I’m not just being a homer because I write for a blog that celebrates the Spurs, let’s go back to December 3, 2019. James Harden stole the ball from San Antonio, ran down the court and dunked the ball so hard it got caught in the net and looked like it popped back out. The refs called basket interference and the 2 points did not count. The Spurs won the game in double overtime. The Rockets organization protested, and asked the NBA to award them the game, or at least let them replay the end of it.
To be fair, I think the Rockets should be allowed to re-play the fourth quarter against the Spurs — in the bubble...against San Antonio’s new-and-improved starting five. Yeah, that oughta take care of it.
Let’s not stop there. In game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, Samaki Walker of the Lakers hit a half court shot as time expired going in to half time. The 3 cut the Kings lead to 14. But replays clearly showed that the ball was still in Walker’s hands as the buzzer sounded. The Lakers ended up winning that game 100-99. The Kings should be retroactively given the win and should be recognized as leading that series 3-1. There may have never been a Game 6 of that series. Don’t get me started on game 6 of that series. All I’ll say is Tim Donaghy.
The Kings should have a title.
Full disclosure, I was cheering for my hometown Kings back then. Perhaps that rooting interest colored my thinking. Alright, but I was a Michael Jordan fan in my youth and I’m willing to admit that he pushed off on Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals. That shot should not have counted. The Jazz should have won and forced a Game 7 in Utah. I know it’s 22 years later, but the right thing to do would be to bring back all those players and play game 7 in Utah like should have happened all along.
Why stop there? If the bad boy Detroit Pistons tried to play basketball today the way they did in their heyday, they would not have won 2 straight titles. Most of their players would be suspended or kicked out of the league. The intimidation so many teams felt in the 80’s certainly wouldn’t be there today. Let’s strip the Pistons of their titles and force them to win them again.
And since we’re speaking of rules, the 3-point line was implemented in the summer of 1979. But it surely wasn’t around for Jerry West in the 60s. I’ve watched some of the Finals games his Lakers played against Bill Russell’s Celtics. I drew a grid on the screen of a 1959 17 inch Sylvania Dualette that I purchased for this very purpose. I used a protractor, a slide rule, and a No. 2 Ticonderoga that I sharpened after every line I drew and I have determined that enough of his shots were from current NBA 3-point land that the Lakers would have won no fewer than two of those series against Boston.
Too far, you say? Not far enough! I’ve recently uncovered evidence that the sling David used against Goliath was made from leather cured with a tanning solution unrecognized by the Gaza Association of Sports, Swords and Yogurt (GASSY) which was an ancient governing body with oversight concerning a delightfully broad range of Eastern-Mediterranean life — imagine a combination of the Geneva Convention, the Food and Drug Administration and Hoyles Rules. Bottom line: the big guy won, technically.
Or maybe the missed call at the end of the 3rd quarter in the Spurs/76ers game motivated the Spurs to score 43 points in the 4th quarter. Maybe the missed call gave them the incentive to tie the score again with 2:32 remaining in the game. Maybe if the score was different DeMar DeRozan wouldn’t have blocked Joel Embiid’s shot, run a fast break and got Ben Simmons to foul out of the game. Maybe if the call was different the Spurs wouldn’t have gone up by 4 with 1:41 remaining in the game. If the refs never missed that call, perhaps Derrick White wouldn’t have only hit 1 out of 2 free throws to put the Spurs up 2 instead of 3 with 10.4 seconds remaining. Then the Spurs wouldn’t have been in position to give up a wide open 3 to Shake Milton that put the 76ers up by 1 with 7.2 seconds remaining. Without the refs blowing that shot clock violation DeMar DeRozan wouldn’t have passed up a game winning attempt to instead pass the ball to rebounder/defensive specialist Jakob Poeltl who couldn’t even hit the rim with the shot he took with two seconds left in the fourth, effectively losing the game.
So maybe the end of the 3rd quarter didn’t lose San Antonio the game ... but Poeltl was definitely fouled on that play and Spurs fans deserve recompense.