When it comes to making proper foul calls at the end of NBA games, the league's Competition Committee thinks the referees need some additional help. NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson recently announced that the Competition Committee will recommend the expanded use of instant replay to allow officials to review block/charge calls in the final two minutes of games and in overtime, according to an Associated Press report.
Officials are currently allowed to use instant replay review for issues of fact at the end of the game -- did a player step out of bounds, did he get both feet behind the three-point line, was a defender in the restricted area under the basket, etc. -- but the new proposal would be the first time that judgment calls could be made subject to review. Stu Jackson acknowledged the significance of the recommended expansion in a recent interview (via NBA.com):
"This is significant," Jackson said at an NBA Cares event to celebrate a new learn and play center at Wheatley Middle School. "It's our first foray into utilizing instant replay for a judgment call. It at least cracks the door open."
"We've always taken the stance that we want to look at ways to expand instant replay review, just because it makes sense," Jackson said. "The referees themselves have supported it because they just want to get the plays right. We're constantly looking for ways to utilize review."
The introduction of high-definition television for NBA broadcasts has put block/charge calls under the spotlight in recent years. Fans now have the ability to see slow-motion replays with better angles than referees get during live action, so the proposed expansion could help ease some of that tension and help ensure the correct call is made. For now, Jackson says the committee feels the NBA's flopping policy and the system of fines for players is working well enough to police the situation:
"It was unanimous among the committee that the flopping system, the policy, has worked this year," Jackson said. "But there was also an acknowledgement that we're open to discussing how we continue to enforce the flopping policy."
The committee is also recommending a new rule to prevent players from standing out of bounds on halfcourt sets to pull defenders even farther away from the rim and create additional spacing on offense. The proposed rule would punish players standing out of bounds as a stationary decoy, but would not punish players who incidentally run out of bounds for a brief moment in the flow of an offensive set.
Several other new rules were also under consideration, but no recommendations were made and the ideas are still under discussion. For example, the committee discussed an idea by Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle that would give each coach one challenge in the last two minutes of playoff games to force a review of a call on the floor by a group of off-site officials.
If the goal is to help referees make the correct call in the biggest moments of NBA games, it appears the league is heading in the right direction. As for cutting down on the time replay reviews eat up at the end of games, that's still a work in progress.