Post by Jon Pastuszek
January 22, 2013
In the Chinese Basketball Association, referees are an ongoing issue. And that’s putting it nicely. Accusations and rumors of point shaving, bribes and various related corruption have all been thrown around, by fans, media and most recently, Tracy McGrady, who was ultimately fined and suspended for publicly criticizing referees.
The most recent case: Sunday’s abomination of a basketball game between Qingdao (again) and Tianjin, which ended in double overtime after 119 total
fouls foul shots and six players fouled out. If you’re a CBA vet, you should know how it turned out: Qingdao, playing at home, won on a terrible end-of-game foul off the ball that sent Chris Daniels to the stripe for the two game-clinching free throws. If anyone is interested in either reliving the nightmare or experiencing it for the first time, Anthony Tao over at Beijing Cream has provided the world with video and words that vividly detail the game and the officiating.
The entire game was pathetic no doubt, but as the lessons learned long ago in CBA Officiating 101 continue to remind me: This is how it goes down here. Teams typically get a good whistle when at home, and a bad one when on the road. The degree can vary from a few calls here and there, to some key calls in crunch time all the way to the Wow, I didn’t know it was even possible to get screwed like that-type of officiating. (Of course, that rule is thrown out the window when you play Bayi, in which case you’re getting an extra bad whistle with a bad scorer’s table and an incompetent towel boy on top.)
And though that fact is known, recognized and acknowledged throughout the league in private, publicly nobody offers up even a peep for fear of punishment from the league… Unless a television camera sneaks into your huddle during a timeout and records everything your head coach is saying, which is what happened last Sunday night during Beijing’s nationally televised game against Xinjiang.
As said by Beijing head coach, Min Lulei, to his players: ”Attack the basket! We’ve got a good whistle, attack the basket! Don’t shoot threes!”
Beijing won the game 106-97 to win their second straight game.
In the age of social media, the clip immediately caused an uproar and has been a main topic of discussion over the last couple of days. So, as has been his job recently, former head of the CBA, Li Yuanwei, publicly put his two cents in on Min and the idea that home teams get a better whistle.
“[Laughing] That’s probably the truth,” said Li. “It’s [Beijing's] home court, right?”
It’s not probably the truth… it is the truth. But go on.
“Actually, Coach Min was only speaking the truth. Everyone has an understanding that there are unwritten rules, there’s really nothing you can do. In this sense, the CBA has a bleak future. This phenomenon isn’t only limited to Beijing, and this kind of special behavior isn’t solely the action some referee. Let me ask, what home court doesn’t have some kind of small advantage? Which away court isn’t a little tough to play at? [CBA] arenas lack a healthy atmosphere. These unwritten rules are too prevalent, and that’s what makes people worried.”
Worried, maybe. We had some other adjectives in mind, though: Frustrated, upset, angry… and probably most of all helpless. Because its up to the league to fix this; and up until now they’ve failed miserably in doing that.