Wait. You mean that did not happen?
Then what was the purpose of the NBA's statement, released the day after the Lakers escaped with a two-point victory in San Antonio, acknowledging that Derek Fisher really did foul Barry in the last second Tuesday?
Yeah, that makes everybody feel a lot better.
Rules interpretations and other procedural matters, including the case this season when the end of a game was replayed, are another issue. I've never known the NBA to publicly evaluate a judgment call or no-call. So why here? So why now?
It is admirable in a way, like a newspaper owning up to a mistake by publishing a correction. But that's for the historical record, as much as anything. With the NBA, whatever is gained in credibility is lost among fans who do need any more reason to believe that the league will be happy to have the ratings-boosting Lakers in the Finals next week - disregarding the fact that Kobe Bryant attempted only one free throw in two games in San Antonio.
Barry was fouled? Uh, everybody already knew that. And saying so now accomplishes what, exactly? All it does is inspire the San Antonio fans to think the Case of the Swallowed Whistle is the only reason the Spurs lost the game, when the previous 47 minutes and 59 seconds had something to do with the outcome.
Professional leagues and collegiate conferences often make such declarations, usually in the context of announcing a suspension or other punishment of referees. The NBA historically has been very secretive about any discipline of its officials, and nothing was said about Tuesday's crew in San Antonio, except that somebody should have called something when Fisher fell for Barry's pump-fake and landed on him, just as Barry started to drive and launch a shot that did not come close.
It almost became comical Wednesday, when The Associated Press reported how the Spurs players and coach Gregg Popovich supported the no-call ruling of the play in postgame interviews, and "the NBA disagreed."
That's supposed to be the other way around, right?
Imagine if Pop and his players had complained about the call in postgame interviews. Would they have been fined for their criticism of the officials, as is standard practice, or would the league have disregarded their commentary because they were correct?
Coincidentally enough, the news also came out this week that the league intends to fine players for "flopping," beginning next season, in an attempt to discourage unnecessary acting that accompanies any collision. In Houston, it will become known as the "A.K. Rule," after the Jazz's Andrei Kirilenko famously exaggerated the effects of his off-the-ball encounter with the Rockets' Luis Scola in Game 2 of a first-round series this year, resulting in an offensive foul that took away a tying shot and helped secure the Jazz's victory.
Supposedly, in-arena observers will be involved in evaluating such plays, and so will the NBA office in studying game videotapes. But other than using a polygraph, how can anyone really judge the impact of the hit that results in the alleged flop?
It would be nice if the anti-flopping legislation has some kind of deterrent effect, but judging by the Kirilenko case, sometimes the risk of a fine will be well worth the flop, for the sake of the team.
Clearly, Barry should have flopped Tuesday, when Fisher jumped and bumped into him on the way down. In that case, he probably would have drawn the foul, altered the course of the series and kept the NBA from having to apologize. And in Los Angeles, the new policy would have become the "Brent Barry Rule."