Why Do NBA Referees Repeatedly Mistreat NY Knicks?


The New York Knicks have been nothing short of disappointing this season. They’ve dropped winnable games, gotten blown out and have displayed an alarming lack of interest and effort early in 2013-14.

But as a Knicks fan, there’s something that alarms me just as much as New York’s play—the refs.

NBA officials just seem to have it out for the Knicks. Against the Indiana Pacers on November 20th, Carmelo Anthony carried New York to a three-point lead with 5.2 seconds left in the game. Indy’s Paul George fired up a deep three-ball as Iman Shumpert played tight defense on him. New York’s lockdown guard barely grazed George’s flailing elbow, and Joey Crawford called a foul and put him on the charity stripe.

Nov 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert (21) reacts to a foul call late during the fourth quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. The Pacers defeated the Knicks 103-96 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

George sunk all three free throws, sent the game to overtime and carried the Pacers to a win as he cockily deflated Madison Square Garden with 35 points.

But after Indiana tied the game, the Knicks had one final shot. Anthony drove on George, got hit as he spun and fired up a tough fadeaway. As the shot clanged, time stood still as everyone in the Garden waited for a whistle that never came.

Shumpert tickles George’s elbow, and there’s a foul. George chest-bumps Melo, no call.

New York had the best team in the NBA beat. This was a game that could’ve turned the early-season skid around for the Knicks, but instead it’s just another notch in the loss column.

Poor officiating has become a recurring theme for the Knicks, most specifically for Anthony. After losing the Houston Rockets on November 14th, Anthony voiced his frustration on his lack of calls ESPN New York’s Ian Begley.

"“You look at that and you see the way that some guys get their calls. Me, I got to get cut. You’ve got to see blood for me to get a call down there,” Anthony said after the Knicks lost to Houston. “That’s where the frustration comes from.”"

Melo is 100 percent right. While he’s one of the biggest stars in the NBA, he doesn’t get the same kind of treatment that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden and even George get from officials.

There are two explanations that I can arrive at in an effort to explain the poor officiating.

The first possible explanation is due to Anthony’s physicality. At 6’8”, Anthony puts all 235 pounds of his body to use when attacking the basket. In other words, Melo isn’t shy away from contact like other NBA stars—he doesn’t flop.

Nov 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) moves the ball against the defense of Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. The Pacers defeated the Knicks 103-96 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If it’s not Anthony’s aggressive style of play that results in a lack of foul calls, it’s got to be his team.

The Knicks are one of the whiniest teams in the NBA, and because of that, referees have an inclination to swallow their whistles. Any time J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and pretty much everyone else on the team gets called for a foul, there’s always an exasperated look of shock and often times there are uncensored comments that follow.

Whatever the reason may be, the mistreatment of the Knicks has got to stop—New York is struggling enough on its own. The team can barely win 5-on-5, let alone 5-on-8.