Some officiating facts

Facts and nothing but the facts. I have no idea why Eddie F. Rush asked about how many fouls Shaq had. None. I’m like everyone else and didn’t think it had any relevancy. I’m sure there must be a good reason. Eddie F is one of the good guys and better refs in the league.

Now for somefacts.

Credit to the league for listening and following through on travelling. Prior to our last game against the Kings:

For reg season 1.55 travels/game were called.

For the entire playoffs thru the Dall Sac game 5, 1.39 travels per game were called

Since the Dallas Sac game, and through the 2nd game of each conf final, 2.05 travels per game were called.

For some more details, we went to the videotape (thanks WW), and got the following related to travelling. In round two, when the travel calls started to pick up, crews with Ed Rush, called a total of 2 travels across the 5 games he was involved with, while the otherrefs who officiated 4 or 5 games, averaged more travels per game than Ed called the entire series.

Other things that stand out from the data I have.

Bernie Fryar and Dan Crawford based crews called a total of 1 Defensive, 3 seconds each, in the 2nd round. Every other crew called a minimum of 3 across that round. Most averaged more per game than Bernie and Dan’s crews called in total.

Of the officials who worked a minimum of 4 games in the 2nd round, crews withDan Crawford called at least 2 fewer shooting fouls per game than crews with any other official (1 less per game than he did in the regular season).On the flip side, Steve Javie called 6 more shooting fouls per game than Dan Crawford. (In the regular season Steve’s crews called fewer shooting fouls per game than any other in the league). Can we infer that Steve calls the games more closely and Dan less? I will leave that to you🙂

More fun facts. It seems unless your name is Dick Bavetta (who I think is one of the better officials), whose crews averaged 53 fouls per game in the 2nd round, if you are on a crew that calls more fouls than your peers, you aren’t long for the playoffs. Officials who officiated 2 games or fewer in the 2nd round were on crews that averaged 50.3 fouls per game. Officials who did 3 or more games averaged 46. And if you take Dick Bavettas out of the 3 or more average, that number falls to 45.5. To Dick’s credit, his crews called more fouls per game than any other crew in the regular season as well (45.6). Compare this to another good ref, Steve Javie, whose crews called the the 3rd least (40.8)in the regular season.

IMHO, the most interesting of all the data comes from the fact that total fouls per game are up for every ref when comparing the 2nd round or total playoffs to the regular season, while shooting fouls are down for the same comparison.

You would think that the ratio of shooting fouls called to total fouls would be the same. It’s not. It drops materially. In fact, of the refs officiating more than 4 games in the 2nd round, only Steve Javie called more shooting fouls per game in the playoffs than in the regular season. His numbers were up less than .4 per game, probably meaning he, more than others, calls shooting fouls in the playoffs just as he does in the regular season.

Conclusions from all of this?

More fouls are called in the playoffs than in the regular season, but fewer shooting fouls are called. You could make the argument that this is because there are fewer possessions, fewer shots, and more action going on away from the ball, but we wouldn’t have the relative disparity by officiating crew if that were the case. We should see the pace and action of the game bring the totals by ref towards the mean, and the relative differences between refs should disappear. That is not happening.

My guess on this is that relatively speaking, the better refs appear to have their own style and approach to games. Many appear to modify that approach for the playoffs, while a few call the game as they did in the regular season.

But like the commercial says, only their hairdressers know for sure.

18 thoughts on “Some officiating facts

  1. Players do not know how to play. I remember my wonderful days in Midget league basketball and none of us got away with the travels, fouls and 3 second calls. And if the refs didn’t catch it, our coach did. And he let us know that’s not the way you play.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  2. That’s part of what makes the NBA such a fascinating spectacle, and gives it dimensions beyond just a glorified college basketball league. That tendency to give special treatment to extraordinary people, especially when they’re ultimately your meal ticket, is so ingrained in human nature; to beat it completely out of the refs would with it eliminate much of what is wisest in them.

    Comment by runescape money -

  3. Mark, get over it…are you paying people to get all of this data or are you wasting your own time getting it. I love reading this blog, but sometimes you just go over the edge. Just stick with the stories about hangin with the big wigs or how you got your start and leave this stuff to all the other people.

    Comment by wood shelf -

  4. NBA officiating is the worst but it is probably dictated by the league. I saw them call a rare palming violation in game 5 of the finals. Palming has become the new way of dribbling. All a “hesitation” dribble is palming the ball. And fouls? Shaq continues to drill opponents with the shoulder. That used to be a charge. Travelling? Not anymore, Shaq takes his two steps and then jumps into position leaving his feet and the announcers rave ” what a move!” The carrying the ball is the worst, though. Even young kids palm and carry the ball. Oscar Robertson must be drooling. Oh to be able to play in the NBA today!!!

    Comment by William Tyers -

  5. Some cialis facts

    Comment by cialis -

  6. Nothing seems worth doing. Shrug. My mind is like a fog.
    http://www.phonebell.net/

    Comment by calling card -

  7. I admit LA has many good players, but the fact is without the absolutely abysmal officiating early in most of their playoff games they would not win as often. Many times LA gets a slew of fouls called against the opponent as soon as the opponents are making a move in the first half. This keeps LA in the game because they can definitely finish on their own after a whole game of things going their way, after all they do have Kobe and other clutch players. Oh sure when you look at the final stats they are fairly even because late in the third and through the fourth quarter the ref’s often catch up LA’s fouls. You can tell when this is happening by happy Jack turning ugly and, well, being the Nicholson that he is. Don’t even get me started on the non-calls on Shaq, after all he dislodges other players so often it is his god given right – at least according to how the NBA refs call it. Kudos to Ras00ta00man for the affirmation on the Shaq calls. So if you take away the ref calls I believe LA would only be another good team but not the dominate one they are now.

    Comment by Matt Melbye -

  8. I would love to see more data on the three leading NBA myths about referees in the play-offs.
    1. That fewer fouls are called on teams facing elimination than the team attempting to eliminate them to promote longer series.
    2. That star players receive fewer foul calls in play-off games when in early foul trouble.
    3. That the foul calls tend to favor certain (large-market) teams over smaller market teams.

    All the ‘evidence’ I have seen on these myths is conjecture from fans of a team after a tough loss. That is not to say that it is untrue, but I would love to say unbiased data.

    Comment by Dean Hacker -

  9. Fascinating information. Stern wants the Lakers too win. He does, come on, he probably tells the officials to not call fouls.

    Comment by Vale -

  10. NBA “product” is pathetic on all levels – from coaching to playing to calling fouls. If the refs truly called penalties, the games would last six hours and feature a majority of that time trying to pass the ball inbounds and on the charity stripe. Players do not know how to play. I remember my wonderful days in Midget league basketball and none of us got away with the travels, fouls and 3 second calls. And if the refs didn’t catch it, our coach did. And he let us know that’s not the way you play. It is a shame that basketball seems to be the one sport where the game gets sloppier as players go from peewee to the NBA. If it looks cool, you don’t get called. It is frustrating to watch the game knowing that the players have so little respect for the rules. If you want to teach your kids how to play, don’t show them NBA playoff highlights.

    Comment by Joe Corey -

  11. The number of fouls called in a game is more indicative of the type of players/teams playing (jump shooters vs. transition vs. grind it out etc.) than who’s calling the game. Players and fans alike should figure this out.

    For example, Shaq as the prototypical grind it out player will always generate a lot of calls (both offensive & defensive) because he’s always creating a lot of contact. In contrast, you don’t see Fred Hoiberg making a lot of trips to the line.

    A more meaningful exercise would be to do a statistical analysis (scatter, linear regression, whatever) of fouls per game called by radial distance from the basket. If performed on a team-by-team and ref-by-ref basis this might tell you who’s really over or under calling fouls. Be sure to remove obvious outliers and remember this should be valid for both shooting and non-shooting affairs!

    Of course if I were you I’d just go fishing.

    Comment by ryan -

  12. Refs want to know the number of fouls a player has, because they don’t want to foul ANYBODY out on a touch foul. I don’t blame them. That’s a reasonable human instinct, and among the many things in basketball that resist purely rational analysis. They take an enormous amount of criticism if they do foul somebody out on a touch foul, especially a player integral to a team’s and the league’s success. I’d hate to see Dirk fouled out because he put his palm on somebody’s back for an instant.

    I don’t think it’s a good thing to take all subjective elements out of NBA reffing — e.g., make-up calls, keep-the-game-under-control calls, let-em’ play non-calls when it keeps a good flow going, superstar benefit-of-the-doubt. That flexibility adds more than it detracts.

    If superstars such as Shaq get an extra margin of respect from the refs, yes, it does tilt some games in their teams’ favor a little. But it’s not as if he hasn’t earned that respect over the years. That’s part of what makes the NBA such a fascinating spectacle, and gives it dimensions beyond just a glorified college basketball league. That tendency to give special treatment to extraordinary people, especially when they’re ultimately your meal ticket, is so ingrained in human nature; to beat it completely out of the refs would with it eliminate much of what is wisest in them.

    Comment by Bob Ondash -

  13. “Conclusions from all of this ?
    More fouls are called in the playoffs than in the regular season,
    but fewer shooting fouls are called.”
    Question: What is the price differential for advertising for Reg season v. playoff games?
    By calling more fouls during playoff games are the games extended in length therefore allowing for more ad revenue?
    I don’t have a clue but I am sure you do.
    Can you comment on “The Line” or would that be crossing the line?

    Comment by DeepT -

  14. Great data, Mark. Haven’t seen this anywhere else.

    Any predictions on whether the league will fine you for the implicit criticism, given their domineering tendencies?

    Glad to see the Pistons advance to the Finals. Hopefully they’ll stand a chance against the forces of evil.

    Comment by JD Lasica -

  15. ADMITTING that the refs keep track of the # of fouls superstars have so that they don’t foul them out.

    ADMITTING that they understand the need for tv ratings/superstar preferences.

    ADMITTING that this means games are affected by who is playing on what team.

    If the games are essentially rigged for certain teams (teams that b/c of their superstars shouldn’t NEED the extra help anyway), and if the fates of teams depend not just on talent but on TV ratings, market size, merchandise sales, and such referee directed game results – WTF SHOULD ANYONE WATCH ANYMORE?

    Baseball has its ridiculous moving strike zone & the NFL’s penalty calling has been questioned before (though they do the best job of trying to account for it IMO). The NBA takes the freaking cake with this crap, though.

    For a 30 year ref to come out and finally admit what we really knew was true, is just insane.

    Comment by Chango -

  16. I think it would be very interesting to see if there is a team breakdown as well. For instance, can we assemble concrete data that the Lakers have fewer fouls called against them than there opponent regardless of officiating crew. or that specific officiating crews alter their historic tendncies while officiating a Lakers game. It just infuriates me when Shaq can barrell into people, draw contact and get the foul, but when he flails his arms or slams into players in position for a rebound there is no whistle. It seems as if when the game is called well the Lakers have a much tougher time. PS flop artists like Malone and Miller will never have the respect of true fans.

    Comment by Ras00ta00man -

  17. Mark, get over it…are you paying people to get all of this data or are you wasting your own time getting it. I love reading this blog, but sometimes you just go over the edge. Just stick with the stories about hangin with the big wigs or how you got your start and leave this stuff to all the other people.

    Comment by C Milton -

  18. I love the date you’re giving us Mark, it’s stats like these that need to be more public because these are things that are not always easy to calculate and for fans would just take too much time. I enjoy reading them and find this stuff interesting. The tendancy of how officials are going to call a game can really help your team. By knowing these tendancies, it just makes your team that much more prepared, good job Mark.

    Comment by Brian -

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