Officials for Rockets-Warriors Game 2: Scott Foster, Ed Malloy, Eric Lewis. Rodney Mott (alternate.)— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 30, 2019
The Rockets have just a bit of history with Foster, and none of it is good. James Harden has fouled out four times in his career. During three of those, Foster was an official. The Rockets lost three home playoff games last season officiated by Foster, and in fact, Chris Paul’s team has lost their last eight consecutive playoff games in which Scott Foster was officiating. The Rockets have lost six straight postseason games with Foster at the helm.
This all culminated in another Foster masterwork in February that saw the Rockets lose to the Los Angeles Lakers on the back of some questionable officiating that had Chris Paul and Mike D’Antoni both receive technicals and James Harden have four offensive fouls called on him for the game.
Things were so bad that The Beard actually went public and pleaded (obviously unsuccessfully) for Foster to no longer officiate the Rockets in any capacity. It earned him a $25,000 fine when he said:
“Last year in the postseason, in the Western Conference Finals, I think he officiated a couple of our games. It’s lingering. It has to be looked at. For sure, it’s personal. For sure. I don’t think he should be able to officiate our games anymore, honestly.
“Scott Foster man, I never really talk about officiating, but just rude and arrogant. I mean, you aren’t able to talk to him throughout the game. It’s not even that call. It’s who he is on that floor. It’s pretty frustrating. You can’t have a conversation. You get a tech.”
The more conspiracy-minded among us would suggest that Foster’s assignment for tonight is a retaliation for the Rockets’ organization very publicly assailing the quality (or lack thereof) of accountability and objectivity among some of the NBA’s officials, in particular, the veteran officials, of which Foster is one.
But it’s important to remember that official’s assignments were made prior to the series in order to give the referees plenty of time for their travel and accommodation arrangements. They’re only announced publicly the day of. So Foster was locked in for Game 2 long before Houston’s research project was conveniently sent to the press.
It’s also important to note that the Golden State Warriors have their own set of gripes with Foster as well. They also have a little bit of Foster-related history they’re not too happy with. It continued this year when Foster actually ejected Demarcus Cousins from the bench.
So what does this all mean for tonight’s game? The officiating will obviously be under a microscope after the Game 1 shenanigans.
Possibility number one is that the Rockets catch the benefit of the doubt tonight. Complaining has a longstanding history of success in the NBA playoffs. Phil Jackson, for example, was a master of officials mind games in between contests. And the Rockets do have legit grievances.
Whether you agree with the team’s methodology of points interpretation or not, there’s no denying the Warriors have been the beneficiaries of an abnormally lopsided number of foul calls. The league’s own data supports this in full game reports and L2M reports. Now that this is all public, and with the league still never fully addressing public suspicions from the Tim Donaghy scandal, could it be the Rockets get a “see, we’re not biased” game?
Another option is the “eff-you” game. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Foster lets the Rockets know that he’s the one in charge (seems like that’s pretty much his thing anyway, power trippin’). Mess with the league, and you’re going to get the horns. Things could conceivably be even worse for the Rockets tonight, if that’s even possible.
Another option is that this game is called on the straight and narrow. I’d like to think tonight’s officials are on strict instructions to be on top of their game, calling things by the book and with consistency. It’s really what we all want at the end of the day anyway.
Unfortunately, my faith that the league one — cares — and two — will do the right thing — is essentially zero. If this happens, I’ll be more than happy to call it out in tonight’s recap. I just hope they attempt to keep the players safe, which is ultimately the point of the freedom of landing space rules anyway.
A fourth option is that Foster is so blinded by his utter disdain for both franchises that tonight’s contest dissolves into a cornucopia of technicals, ejections, and Foster smugness. And honestly, as sad as it may be, a total shitshow may be the option that we all deserve.
The NBA for failing to address these concerns for years now, the Golden State Warriors and their fanbase for hypocritically criticizing the Rockets when they’ve been among the biggest whiners in the league whenever they don’t get a call. Which makes it all the more rich knowing that the league’s own data suggests they are, in fact, the greatest beneficiaries of the NBA’s officiating problem. And the Rockets deserve it for not doing just a little bit more to edge these guys and simply make this a secondary issue, and us fans, myself included, for occasionally sliding down the conspiracy rabbit hole, even if a lot of evidence suggests its not just tin-foil-hat stuff.
One thing that’s been patently obvious through this mess so far is that everyone seems to hate NBA officials for their own reasons.
We’ve all made our bed, especially the NBA, so maybe tonight’s serendipitous circumstances that have the Rockets, Warriors, and Scott Foster all converging means it’s simply time for us all to lie in it.
What happens tonight?
This poll is closed
Rockets benefit from calls
Warriors continue to receive gifts from the NBA
Foster calls a clean and consistent game
Total on-court implosion, the game we all deserve
Luka owns them all, Foster included. Mavs in 3