By Ben Golliver
What in the world is going on with NBA referees during free throw attempts this week?
On Monday, David Jones wrestled with Raptors forward Amir Johnson over control of the basketball before ejecting him, a tussle that led Johnson to throw his mouthguard at Jones in frustration, earning himself a one-game suspension.
During a Wednesday night game between the Raptors and Nets in Toronto, diminutive referee Courtney Kirkland whistled twice quickly and then sprinted from the baseline to the free throw line before launching himself into the air in an attempt to stop an attempt by Nets forward Kris Humphries.
Kirkland failed to block Humphries' shot but did succeed in stopping him from shooting the ball; his goal, it seems, was to allow substitutes into the game. It's unclear why it would matter if Humphries attempted the free throw or not if play was already whistled dead but Kirkland delivered the laughs anyway.
The exchange occurred with 7:42 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Nets leading 81-68. Humphries finished with 11 points and two rebounds on one-for-one shooting from the field. He hit nine of his 10 free throw attempts, including the attempts immediately before and after Kirkland's block attempt.
The good news here: unlike Jones/Johnson, no ejections or suspensions resulted. Kirkland is no rookie: MLive.com reports that he began refereeing in 1994 and has been an NBA referee since 2000.