- The Game 4 referees' explanation of Draymond Green's technical foul controversy was far from adequate.
CLEVELAND — It didn’t quite add up then, and it surely doesn’t add up now.
Though there were many chaotic moments during Game 4 of the NBA Finals—a record-setting 49-point quarter, a self alley-oop, yet another groin shot—a perplexing move by officials to retroactively correct a technical foul called on Draymond Green certainly isn’t lost among them due to its mishandling.
With 6:18 remaining in the third quarter of Friday’s game, Green—already playing with one technical foul marked down in the scorebook—was handed a second tech by official Mike Callahan for complaining about a call. That appeared to serve him an automatic ejection; Green lost his mind, fans heckled him, and the public address celebrated his departure from the game with an announcement and music.
Officials then went over to the scorer’s table for a few minutes, and it became apparent that the ejection was being called into question. The second technical was clearly called on Green, but the first tech called on Green at 1:55 in the first, the officials claimed, actually meant to go against head coach Steve Kerr.
“The table informed us that it was his second technical foul,” Callahan told the NBA’s pool reporter after the game. “We informed the table that it was not his technical foul.”
Back in the first, Green was whistled striking Iman Shumpert in the face during a jumpball, something he probably should have earned a flagrant foul for anyway. He had words with officials, Kerr ran out to protest the call, and a technical foul was announced to the crowd on Green and marked down in the book. It seemed pretty cut and dry, to everyone except the officials.
“After calling the loose ball foul on Draymond Green, I noticed the reaction by Coach Kerr and then assessed a technical foul,” Referee John Globe told the reporter. “In the moment, I thought I had verbalized to the table that the technical foul was on Coach Kerr. After looking at the video, I did not verbalize to the table and looking at the video I should have done a better job of making sure that the table knew the technical foul was on Coach Kerr.
“At the time, we did not do a very good job listening to the PA announcer and we did not hear him announce it.”
After officials had clearly communicated with the table about a bevy of personal fouls, suddenly one got lost in translation. Despite the speakers in Quicken Loans Arena being jacked up approximately 20 notches too high, the referees did not notice that the wrong member of the Warriors was called for tech. Watching Callahan turn toward the table on replay and listening to the foul being announced, it’s puzzling it wasn’t corrected on the spot. That is, of course, if officials actually called it on Kerr.
Considering Green was far more worked up about the foul than Kerr was, and he was closer to Callahan and John Goble for the majority of the altercation, it’s hard to believe that the Warriors’ coach earned the foul and not Green. “Noticing the reaction” of a head coach that has been very animated throughout his coaching career isn’t a very strong argument for assessing a technical. Not hearing the announcement coming from a deafening sound system is near-comical. There was confusion abound in the third quarter when officials took a technical foul away from Green, and after this explanation, there might be even more.
What happened on Friday is best described as shady, just like Dikembe Mutombo prematurely congratulating the 76ers on the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, or the Knicks winning the ’85 lottery. Going back and retroactively removing a foul from Green, keeping him in the game, will live in infamy and fuel even more league conspiracy theories. If anything, it’s making those who truly believe the league influences the outcome of its games and seasons look more rational. Referees need to regain control, and practice transparency and consistency in their calls.