Is it safe to assume both Alex Rodriguez and Sean Avery are more popular in the Metroplex than Bennett Salvatore? It was the Non-Call Heard ‘Round The World yesterday at the American AIrlines Arena, with Mavericks players, fans and Owners With Boners alike figuring a game winning 3-pointer by Denver’s Carmelo Anthony should’ve been nullified by Antoine Wright’s efforts to foul the Nuggets PG prior to the shot. “There’s no doubt Wright fouled Carmelo,” argues Mavs Moneyball’s Wes Cox. “It’s an undeniable fact given that the NBA admitted it 3 hours too late, but I do wonder why Wright left any doubt as to what he was doing.” CBS Sportsline‘s Ken Berger might agree with the second half of that statement (“if Wright wanted to foul, he should’ve fouled quick and hard, before Anthony made his move and went into his shooting motion”), but certainly not the first.
It was baffling — positively baffling — to receive a statement from the NBA asserting that the officials missed the intentional foul attempt by Wright. I am telling you, I was flabbergasted by this. I had dinner with another experienced NBA journalist in Houston Saturday night, and we couldn’t believe this statement was issued. Not because it’s foolish for the NBA to admit mistakes. No. Oh, no. Because neither one of us saw a mistake so obvious, so cut and dried, that it warranted a statement within a couple of hours after the game. Or any statement at all.
This is weird. Very weird. I stand by my analysis of the call, even though despite the NBA’s best efforts — and I honestly believe their intentions are to achieve the highest levels of accuracy and transparency — I think the officials got this right on the floor and the league got it wrong in the email.
The key question is one that I haven’t seen answered. And I offer this caveat: I didn’t see the game live, only the replays. But the play in question came out of a timeout. And if a team intends to use a foul to give in that situation, the correct procedure — or the smart procedure — is for the coach or a player to inform the referees that they plan to commit an intentional foul. Did anyone do this? If so, the Mavs have a case. But even considering all that, and assuming that communication occurred, I stand by my analysis of the play. Wright did not commit the foul soon enough or in an obvious way. Not only that, but he seemed unsure of what he was supposed to be doing. He couldn’t have made this any clearer than he did when he pulled up and raised his arms in the universal basketball gesture that means, “I didn’t foul.”