Rockets skipped out on keeping Warriors in the loop as they raised questions on officiating advantage
The Houston Rockets’ data-driven case accusing officials of providing the Golden State Warriors with an unfair advantage of the whistle in “heavy-hitter” matchups circumvented a key rule provided by the league in hopes of maintaining transparency.
According to Zach Harper of The Athletic, the league sent out a memorandum to all playoff participants reminding them of the due process for raising “competition-related matters,” including questions about the officiating, which would need to be shared with their respective opponent.
The memo reads:
As the 2019 NBA Playoffs begin, we are providing a reminder of the rules governing competition-related communications between team personnel and the League Office during the Playoffs.
General Rule: All communications in any form from a team that is participating (or will participate) in the Playoffs to the League Office that raise competition-related matters that arise from, or could or do relate to, a Playoff series between that team and an actual or potential Playoff opponent (including, but not limited to, officiating matters) will be shared as contemporaneously as reasonably possible by the League Office with such opponent. This rule will not apply to communications that we determine to be solely procedural in nature (e.g. “when will the league respond to our prior inquiry about officiating?”) or otherwise immaterial, but the presumption in close cases always will be to transparently share the communication.
This same memo notes that submitting video evidence and examples through the “Playoff Team Inquiry Website” will be automatically reviewable for their respective playoff opponent, along with phone conversations always having a representative from the other team on the line.
This was meant as a checks and balances process, allowing for fair judgment of an inquiry and giving the opposing team an opportunity to protest or agree with the same inquiry.
The situation gets muddy due to how it was released. The data compiled for this case was never actually sent to the NBA, but rather discussed in person with the league governing body, making this a likely loophole that could allow the Rockets to escape punishment for skipping out on proper procedure.
Furthermore, the fact that the case was released to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Rachel Nichols allowed for it to get eyes on it through the media rather than doing so through the league, which by itself could be worthy of a fine or further discipline.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN: “As we told the Rockets, we do not agree with their methodology.” This is something the league invoked given the Rockets’ decision to assess point values to justify their case.
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