Harden’s dunk, LeBron’s travel, and the incompetence of NBA officiating

Lebron James and Anthony Davis playing for the LA Lakers
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon

NBA · 2 years ago

Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Officiating stinks in just about every sport these days, even with the benefit of video replay more often than not. There were no such benefits in the NBA’s two such disasters this month, and thus nothing could be done (although the Rockets still have other ideas) about the two missed calls.

It started with James Harden’s unsuccessful successful dunk during Tuesday’s game at San Antonio. If those officials thought no one would ever make a worse no-call, the zebras for Wednesday’s showdown between the Lakers and Jazz were quick to hold their beer. LeBron James pretty much moonwalked his way down the basketball court—with basketball in hand—but somehow escaped without a traveling violation.

The dunk

The botched call on Harden’s dunk was the tougher of the two situations (which isn’t necessarily saying a lot!), but it definitely had the bigger impact. Houston led 102-89 with 7:50 remaining when the NBA’s scoring leader dunked the ball through the hoop only to see the net bring it back up around the rim. Officials considered it to have missed and play resumed with the Rockets still leading 102-89. And of course the rest of the night played out like this: the Spurs stormed back to force overtime and eventually upset the Rockets 135-133 in double-OT.

Should the refs have gotten the call right? Sure. But it was something that basically everyone said they had never seen before in their entire history of watching basketball, so it is understandable if it caught the refs by surprise. Check out the fans, too, the next time you watch the video. When the ball exits the net, a whole host of them naturally think Harden missed the dunk and start celebrating and/or mocking him for what they assumed was an epic blunder.

More ridiculous than the call is that the Rockets actually had the audacity to say they were confident the NBA would go back and give them the win. LOL. When that obviously didn’t happen, the Rockets actually had the audacity to formally protest the game. Yeah, good luck with that!

The travel

Things are quite simply going better for the Lakers these days than they are for the Rockets. Houston is still a decent 14-7, but it could be even better heading into Saturday’s date with Phoenix (check out our free NBA previews and predictions). Better is exactly what LeBron and company are, sporting a 20-3 record. Much unlike the case with Harden’s crew, even the calls are going L.A.’s way. Early in the first quarter on Wednesday, LeBron quite clearly forgot one dribble on his way down the floor—taking four steps instead of two prior to the next bounce. Also much unlike Harden’s case, both the fans and especially one official had great views of what happened. Everyone in the crowd seemed to notice, but somehow the one official who was right there did nothing. LeBron was allowed to continue free of charge.

It certainly did not impact the game’s outcome, as Los Angeles eventually dominated 121-96. Still, a league that has otherwise done a better job of late in terms of clamping down on similar tomfoolery has to demand a higher standard from its refs.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook

$1,000

Get a $1,000 No Sweat First Bet on Rams vs. 49ers

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $1,000!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at fanduel.com/sportsbook.

DraftKings

$200

Bet $5+ on Rams or 49ers ML, Get $200 If Your Bet Wins

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any NFL pre-game ML

Win $200 if your team wins

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Unibet

$100

Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

PointsBet

$800

Get 4x $200 In Free Bets on Rams vs. 49ers

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Bet up to $200 and If you lose, you get a refund

You will receive Free Bet(s) in the amount of the losing wager(s), up to $200 each for four days.

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,250

Get a $1,250 risk-free bet on Rams vs. 49ers

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Place your first bet of $10 or more

If your first bet loses, you’ll receive a refund up to $1,250 from Caesars in free bets

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet on Rams vs. 49ers

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

BetRivers

$500

Get Your First Bet Risk-Free Up To $500

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

DraftKings

$100

Bet $5+ on MLB and get $100 in Free Bets Instantly!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any MLB team to win their next game

Win $100 no matter what!

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

PointsBet

$500

Get 5x $100 in Free Bets on Rams vs. 49ers With PointsBet's Second Chance

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get $2,000 in Free Bets on Rams vs. 49ers

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

Underdog Fantasy

$100

First deposit is 100% matched up to $100 with Underdog Fantasy

Sign up for a new account with Underdog Fantasy

Make your first deposit

Every dollar (up to $100) will be matched! Deposit $25, get $50; deposit $100, get $200, etc

Must be 21+ to play. Terms & conditions apply