Donovan’s mad. Rudy’s mad. Mike’s mad.
Maybe you as a Jazz fan are mad, too.
But they — you? — also are wrong in a most profound way.
We all get it. NBA officiating is far from perfect. Everybody with a brain knows this.
Anyone who watched the end of the Jazz-Sixers game on Wednesday night — a game Mitchell imagined and classified and filed away in the reaches of his own mind as a Jazz win, but that goes in reality in the loss column — is fully aware.
The refs blew some calls, worst among them the offensive hooking foul whistled on Mitchell that should have been called in the exact opposite way, Ben Simmons having unrighteously hooked Mitchell in a most critical moment of the game. Conley got hacked and slapped on a few trips. Other misses could be cited.
That stuff happens.
It shouldn’t, but it does.
In my four decades of writing about NBA basketball, I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times, thousands. Sometimes you see judgments made by the refs that make you wonder what in the name of Mindy Rudolph they are seeing. They are flat incorrect. No other way to characterize it. And officials who make those kinds of mistakes should be reviewed and reprimanded, and if it happens on the reg, they should be forced to look for work elsewhere.
Like in the college game, where the refereeing is considerably worse.
As far as the Jazz are concerned, Dick Bavetta should have been officiating Appalachian Bible College-versus-Lakeview College of Nursing games instead of running up and down the floor and ruining the 1998 NBA Finals.
But Mitchell, Gobert and Conley need to stand down on the insinuations, as they offered after Wednesday’s loss, that there’s some kind of collective effort by referees to screw over the Jazz, specifically, and to punish small-market teams, generally.
Do they — you — really believe that?
Do they — you — actually buy into the idea that NBA refs have individually or collectively either made their own determination or have all gotten together, perhaps under the direction of commissioner Adam Silver, to steer calls against the Jazz, so little old Hooterville doesn’t have proper opportunities to win games or win a title?
That kind of coordination would be quite a complicated diabolical plot to pull off, and if anyone who was involved in it ever came forward after the fact to reveal what was going on, the NBA would be cooked. It would lose all integrity/credibility as a professional enterprise and it would cost the league more than what would ever be gained by guiding selective marquee teams to their now designated, enhanced success.
In a year where all kinds of crazy conspiracies have been floated and unfortunately believed by far too many, this or that being stolen away, this one, like most of the others, is to be tossed aside as nonsense.
That’s what it is.
Refs make mistakes. Let’s say it again. Refs make mistakes.
Not because they have it in for the Jazz, not because they want to keep anything away from Donovan, Rudy, Mike or anybody else. Not because something horrible is afoot. Not because they’ve been duped by certain players’ marketing campaigns.
No. It’s because they are human, not superhuman. They don’t have lasers for eyes. They aren’t robots. In rough-and-tumble nightly competitions with extraordinary large men who move like lightning, and whose actions on the floor must be judged in a split second as that action moves forward, they simply can’t see everything just as it should be.
They are asked to do the impossible — get it right every single time.
I’ll admit, at times superstar players do get favorable calls. Too often. And that must be studied and fixed — or should we use a different word in this context? — and improved. Silver knows, every official knows, there’s room for that.
As for the Jazz loss to the Sixers, there’s a couple of ways to look at it.
The Jazz led most of the way, and could have sealed the deal. They did not. They made mistakes of their own. They missed shots — Mitchell himself bricked 22 shots and made just 12. The majority of those misses were not caused by him being fouled without a whistle. If a couple of them were, he’s got a whole lot of good company among NBA players in a whole lot of games from season’s start to finish. It doesn’t begin and end with Utah.
Word is out that the way to beat the Jazz is to get physical with them. And they were, in fact, on the business end of some lousy calls. And that stinks. But it will stink again, just as it does for other teams, good and bad, from big cities and small.
Utah is not being persecuted here. It’s not that the Jazz are a cute, huggy-buggy team that the refs don’t believe in or respect or worry about taking complaints from. There are moments when there are some curious events, like when Gobert long ago complained about the refereeing on one occasion and then was called for a foul on the opening tip of the next game.
There can be some human interactions and disputes, some bumping and skidding along the way. But If the refs collectively wanted to mess with these guys, the Jazz would have more losses than just nine.
They’re not alone in their complaining. Teams that roll into and out of Vivint Arena have for seasons now done their fair share of moaning and groaning, too, that it was the Jazz who were getting so many benefits of the calls.
All of this means one basic thing: The Jazz should play on, play hard, play well. And they will get the reward that’s coming to them, and make one thing absolutely real — that they, more often than not, refuse to lose.
That will be fair enough.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.