Issue 95: Like my iPod’s stuck on replay, replay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Back in 2002, the NBA introduced the replay review. Of course, we had instant replay before then (how else would we capture Shaq destroying backboards?), but it had only been used to show us cool plays, not to aid officials in making calls.

Initially, replay review was only used to determine if a shot was released before the buzzer of the clock. Utah Jazz fans everywhere lamented, “why couldn’t this have been a thing four years earlier?!”

Since then, replay review has expanded to include many other elements of basketball. Beyond beating the buzzer, we’ll take pauses to review who the ball last touched before going out of bounds, whether a shot was a two-pointer or three-pointer, whether a foul was a flagrant foul, or whether a foul is a block or a charge.

Often, these replay reviews slow down the game tremendously (we’ll get to that shortly). But for people who insist the refs “get it right,” well…these delays often do lead to the right call.

However, they also lead to some really fortuitous moments for the team benefitting from the call. Let’s look at some cases of overturned or replay-reviewed calls that ended up impacting history.

You blocking or charging?

Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals will forever be known as that time J.R. Smith had a brain fart on national TV (I’m glad mine are not viewed by so many people), but how did we end up there?

By a real wild sequence of events beforehand, kicked off by LeBron James getting a basket and foul. On the ensuing position, the Warriors were down two as Kevin Durant drove to the hoop.

LeBron slid over to the left like he was doing one of the instructions from the “Cha Cha Slide,” and threw his body in front of Durant.

The call? Offensive foul.

But hold on a tick — the officials were walking over to the screen. Could…could they possibly overturn this?

Why yes, yes they could. On review, the officials ruled the charge was actually a block and Durant would get two free throws instead of the Cavs getting the ball.

The league came out and said this was the correct call, but it’s certainly the biggest moment a charge/block call replay review has ever seen.

Long delays set up cool plays

A subsequent result of these replay reviews is that they effectively give teams a free timeout to draw up a play or set up the defense.

Because replay most frequently happens at the end of a game (the officials can only stop the game if there are fewer than two minutes on the clock) there are many occasions where a team has no actual timeout to call. Yet, they get several minutes to talk it out, thanks to the officials looking at a monitor to figure out what’s what.

In fact, we saw this just last week when the Phoenix Suns devised the nifty play below to sneak Game 2 away from the Los Angeles Clippers. With 0.7 seconds left, your options are fairly limited. But when you have a few minutes to put something together? You can create something cool.

In Phoenix’s case, Jae Crowder offered the perfect lob to Deandre Ayton, who slammed it home and reacted like a kid who just stole a cookie from the jar and can’t believe he got away with it.

And really, he did get away with it, because the Suns didn’t have a timeout left. Then, on the way to the locker room, the team immediately FaceTimed with Chris Paul, who missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols, and it was just the cutest.

A case for short shorts

My pal Seany has ranted against several rules and trends that have come into basketball over the years. If you ever meet him, ask how he feels about late-game fouling or charges, and you’ll get a delightfully animated response.

Another rule he hates? The instant replay to determine whether the ball went out of bounds off a certain player.

Okay, he doesn’t hate the rule itself. He just hates the way it’s applied sometimes. You see, if you’re dribbling a ball and someone slaps it away, there’s a good chance it may graze one of your fingertips as it heads out of bounds.

In real-time, you’d say “oh, that’s off the defender. They slapped it away and it went out of bounds.”

But when you can slow it down to the slooooowest of replays, you might see the ball, while being slapped away, just barely deflect off the nail of the offensive person.

That’s not at all the spirit of the rule, though. The rule is designed for a play when both people are going for the ball — off a rebound or maybe while diving to the floor — and it’s unclear who touched it last.

In a play like the one I described above, it’s obvious the ball should be off the defensive player. But sometimes replay comes up short…or shorts?

During this year’s Sweet 16 battle between UCLA and Alabama, the Crimson Tide’s John Petty Jr. (known in this household as JPJ, because what a sweet nickname) tried to dribble the ball while making a move, as one does.

The ball ricocheted off of the foot of Jaime Jacquez Jr. (a Jr. vs. Jr. matchup!) who notably plays for UCLA, not Alabama. The whistle blew as the ball went out of bounds, and since it was a close game with under two minutes left, the officials headed to replay review.

We then were “treated” to about 87 minutes of all different kinds of angles of Petty’s shorts. In some replays, it looked like the ball went directly through his legs, not touching him at all. In other replays, it looked like the ball may have whispered into his shorts as it went out of bounds.

With all the replays, I was mad that we were spending time reviewing this.

Alabama had a one-point lead at the time. Instead, UCLA got the ball back, and, despite a bananas finish to regulation, the Bruins won 88-78 in overtime.

Next year, the whole Crimson Tide roster is sporting short shorts. It’s the only way.

Other Reads and Watches

Diana Taurasi became the first WNBA player to score 9,000 career points

Zach Harper on Trae Young’s passing prowess ($)

Dave King on Devin Booker’s uncertain mask future

Lee Dresie on some of the individual performances in the NBA playoffs

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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