D.J. Augustin and Al Horford in the play that brought last night's game to a halt. (Photo: Frank McGrath)

D.J. Augustin and Al Horford in the play that brought last night’s game to a halt. (Photo: Frank McGrath)

brunos_blog_400After more than 10 minutes, three (or four, I lost count) ridiculous lengthy officials’ conferences and a maddeningly extended review of video, here’s what the NBA taught us last night:

When you hit a guy in the marbles, he gets one shot.

Now, I’ve been covering this league a long time and was fully unaware there was a section of the rulebook devoted specifically to specific penalties for blows to assorted body parts. If so, it really seems like an elbow to the attachments should merit more than one shot.


Absolutely, but that’s where replay has taken the NBA – and every other sport it infests.

With 2:09 left in the third quarter of last night’s Pacers-Hawks game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, D.J. Augustin drove to the hoop. As 6-10 Atlanta center Al Horford crushed the 5-10 guard with a two-arm chop, including one to the head, Augustin put up a self-defense elbow that caught Horford in his onions.

And then the lights went out in the Superdome.

Thanks to the presence of the replay system, officials Bill Kennedy, Josh Tiven and Scott Wall were fully able to get a call that was obvious to most everyone that viewed it with the naked eye correct: technical foul on Augustin for the elbow, flagrant on Horford for the blow to the head.

This prompted some dark comedy as the officials conferred for a few minutes, then decided, ‘Hey, what the heck, let’s look at the video.’ After a few minutes of that – and there was no lack of clarity on camera angle or focus on this play – they decided to chat some more.

The fans at the Super Bowl actually had it easier, because they could at least see the lights coming back on, slowly but surely. These officials kept the arena in the dark for so long you had to wonder if they would ever see the light.

It was just the latest ridiculous example supporting my firm belief that replay must go – not just in basketball, but all sport.

This is not a case of an old fuddy-duddy railing against technology. Consider, for a moment, the medium in which this opinion is being published.

No, this is about something much larger: the futile attempt of governing bodies to make it appear they are trying to eliminate, or marginalize, the potential for human error.

It’s a noble goal but thoroughly out of reach, thanks in part to the system itself. Every sport that uses replay places limitations on what can, or can’t, be reviewed.

What this creates is not a solution, but another problem. It’s as if the government created another agency in charge of analyzing the necessity of some – but not all – government agencies.

The fundamental issue is this: if you cannot review everything, it is unfair to review anything. Otherwise, all you get is partial justice, occasional virtue, selective enforcement.

Even then, the system doesn’t always work.

The wild ending of the Packers-Seahawks game in September was subject to a thorough review, and the NFL officials still got it wrong.

Let’s go back the Super Bowl for a moment. The one play that most demanded a second, third and fourth look, the one that truly could’ve determined the NFL’s champion – the no-call on apparent defensive holding by Baltimore’s Jimmy Smith against San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone on the 49ers’ final meaningful offensive play – was not subject to replay review.

Like a kick in the acorns, replay is something we would all be better without.


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