The "Last Two Minute Report" Issue For the NBA

The "Last Two Minute Report" Issue For the NBA
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There are 30.3 seconds left on the shot-clock, and your team is within one possession of the opponent. Let’s just say your point guard is Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has the ball at the top of the key, running an isolation on his defender. He uses his insane athleticism and blows past the defender and gets to the basket. He goes for a layup and the help defender rotates down to the block and challenges his shot and smacks him on the arm, causing him to miss the layup. To us and everyone at home, it’s clearly a foul. The officials out on the floor, however, did not call the play as a foul. The Thunder go on to lose the game, and who knows what the outcome would have been if the official called a foul.

Fast forward 24 hours, and the league comes out and formally recognizes the official’s mistake. What exactly does that accomplish? Formally recognizing a missed foul, a foul that should not have been called as a foul, or any other officiating issues after the game has already concluded accomplishes absolutely nothing. It’s a courageous act by the league to be transparent within itself. It’s an act by them that essentially says, “we aren’t perfect, and we recognize our flaws.”

Here’s the thing: A last two-minute report, by nature, is an awful idea. Here is the definition of an NBA Officiating Last Two Minute Report on the NBA’s official archived reports website:

Below is the league’s assessment of officiated events that occurred in the last two minutes of last night’s games which were within five points at the two-minute mark (and during overtime, where applicable). The plays assessed include all calls (whistles) and notable non-calls. Notable non-calls will be defined as material plays directly related to the outcome of a possession. Similar to our instant replay standards, there must be clear and conclusive video evidence in order to make a determination that a play was incorrectly officiated.

There are several things wrong with the notion of a Last Two Minute Report, which we’ll refer to as LTMR from here on. For one, it doesn’t directly change the fact that the officials incorrectly called a play in real-time, thus potentially directly affecting the outcome of the game. A blown call or a terrible no-call can completely deflate a team, regardless of it being in the last two minute’s of a game, or if it happens three minutes into the second quarter. Bad officiating can directly alter the outcome of a game whether or not it happens within the last two minutes of an incredibly close game or not.

Dwyane Wade recently spoke up on LTMR, and his thoughts perfectly represent my thoughts in a lot fewer words.

I hate them. I hate the two-minute reports. I’ll go on record saying it again. It's bad for our game to come back with those two-minute reports. They come back and show the imperfectness of our game in two minutes. But it's imperfect the whole game. Let's not break down the last two minutes, as players get called out and fined for saying stuff to the refs but the NBA is calling our refs out for making the wrong play or right play. Let's just leave it alone.

The entire game of basketball is officiated imperfectly on every level of competition. It is impossible to quantify the mistakes officials made to the last two minutes of competition. It is not fair to the officials, who obviously call the plays as unbiased as possible. It’s easy for viewers to nitpick certain calls as we get an almost infinite amount of replays and angles to analyze and particular play. In real time, officials see it differently. The LTMR are disrespectful to the officials and the overall integrity of the game and the NBA as a whole. They do not benefit anyone playing or watching at home, nor do they provide the transparency the league was hoping they’d provide.