DALLAS - I sat courtside, with a heckuva a view of the coaching challenge that helped determine the outcome of the Dallas Mavericks' nail-biting 121-119 loss to visiting Portland on Sunday ... but it's not the only thing we should discuss as having been botched.
“There was a shot, Dorian (Finney-Smith) got the rebound,'' said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, describing in as unemotional and matter-of-fact tone as possible the final frantic seconds. "He went up, there was a foul called, it was challenged and reversed.”
All of that is true. But there's more: The new rule, which is being tested in the 2019-20 NBA season, is for me already established to be the same clown show as the NFL's "coaches' challenges'' and its "RefereePlay.'' Again, look at the key play from any angle - mine, above, or this one below - and it's impossible to determine that Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith definitively was not fouled.
Quite the opposite, actually.
“I’ve never seen a call be overturned before, but it felt like a football game a little bit,” Finney-Smith said. “(Damien Lillard) fouled me on the rebound, he slapped down, he had to come across my arm, and he also had his right hand on my hip.
“I just probably should have sold it a little bit more, but it is what it is.”
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And that's all this rule is going to accomplish, really: More controversies, more bowing to the Gods of Technology and more players realizing they'd better "sell it a little more'' so they can influence calls.
This situation: With the Mavs trailing the Blazers,120-119, Lillard was with 8.4 seconds remaining whistled for a foul on Finney-Smith with just 8.4 seconds remaining. Blazers coach Terry Stotts (pushed by Dame's testimony) subsequently used the NBA’s new coach’s challenge rule.
And "after further review'' - a nauseatingly common sports term that has no reason for being - the play was overturned and a jump ball was called. Portland won the jump ball, and it was largely over for the Mavs as they dropped to 2-1.
And I should point out: Don't lose the jump ball. Don't miss nine free throws. Don't lose 19-point leads.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban has made his voice heard regarding the call, saying this rule is "going to have real problems.'' And indeed, the problems have already begun, because as with the NFL - and speaking of someone who had great seats right behind the bench - my friends and I (and MFFL everywhere) aren't talking about the great players and the great plays; we're talking about a dumb rule.