Stephen Curry just called the league out, or at least, he tipped his cap in their direction as mockingly as possible. Striding into Sunday’s game sporting an oven mitt on his belt, Curry made sure that the NBA’s silly “hot stove contact” faux pas won’t go away quietly.
This all started when Curry’s 3-pointer with 22.9 seconds left in regulation didn’t go in as Minnesota guard Josh Okogie slapped his foot mid-shot. Curry fell down, looking for a foul. Nothing.
The NBA report says that “Okogie (MIN) makes marginal “hot-stove” contact with Curry’s (GSW) leg after the release of his jump shot attempt and does not affect his ability to land safely.”
This angle of Josh Okogie slapping Steph’s ankle is absolutely appalling. pic.twitter.com/rbdSW4azHY— TheWarriorsTalk (@TheWarriorsTalk) March 30, 2019
Ok fine. Calls are missed. Nothing too egregious here. Though the replay angle does look bad, and certainly intentional, the league concludes after the fact -including the replay angle above - that the contact was incidental? Come on.
But the real outrage comes from looking at two game deciding plays in context with each other. If the above play is incidental, this next call is harder to understand. Note - the league doesn’t make any additional details available explaining how these two reviewed plays exist in the same sphere.
Later on the two minutes report, Kevin Durant’s potentially game deciding three-pointer is waived off as a non-shooting foul. Again, the NBA post mortem concludes no wrongdoings. Keita Bates-Diop “places two hands on Durant and makes contact with him prior to the start of his upward shooting motion.”
No hot stove contact here, huh?
Weird. Watch the defenders hands (you can quietly whisper “hot stove” to yourself as the contact occurs to strengthen the experience).
This last sequence in OT pic.twitter.com/IoZdmpFUkd— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 30, 2019
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them.”
― George Orwell, 1984
Hiding behind the illusion of transparency, the NBA and their referees have stepped up their propaganda efforts over the past few seasons. Consumers have been critical since the inception of the NBA’s “last two minutes” report - a cherry-picked summary of questionable calls in the final two minutes of close games. Much like any number of internal investigations - the outcome can feel preordained - these things are as much pure spin as they are objective analysis.
In the same vein, the NBA Referees Association loudly brought out a public twitter account that selectively responds to questions. But make no mistake, the NBA’s primary interest isn’t transparency, it’s building an unassailable platform of authority. Players or coaches criticize the refs? Automatic fine - and generally a large one. Any criticism by the public is met with the same canned responses about transparency, citing their two minute reports and referee twitter account. But without an honest accounting, it doesn’t matter what the presentation says.
This is not about the numerous bad calls that were made in the deciding moments of the previous game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors. Yes, they were defeated, but it hardly bothered the first place Warriors, or their fans. It’s not that we mind losing on what was the equivalent of an unintentionally banked in three-pointer; it’s that the NBA doesn’t have the good grace to look at least a little bit sheepish about it.