During the offseason, NBA referees implemented a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul to combat flopping. In the Knicks-Celtics game on Wednesday, referees called two of those technical fouls, one on Jalen Brunson and the other on Kristaps Porzingis.
The call on Porzingis was warranted, but the one on Brunson wasn’t. With 6:40 left to play and the Knicks up two, 88-86, Jalen Brunson went up for a three, and Jayson Tatum rushed over to contest the shot. Tatum didn’t give Brunson space to land, and the point guard’s left foot landed on Tatum’s right foot, and he fell.
The refs took it as an opportunity to call a flopping tech when, in actuality, Brunson should’ve gone to the line for three free throws. Instead, Tatum went to the line and tied the game at 88. If it had been deemed a flagrant on Tatum, the Knicks would’ve gotten the ball back, too.
Sure, Brunson can sell calls, but in this case, there wasn’t anything else for him to do. Fans were rightfully frustrated at the terrible call, and the NBA refs Twitter (X) account admitted to their mistake on Thursday afternoon.
NBA referees admit they wrongfully whistled Jalen Brunson for flopping technical foul
What’s comical is that the account attempted to justify why they called a technical foul on Jalen Brunson.
"Had no foot to foot contact existed, this type of secondary and theatrical movement by Brunson would meet the criteria for a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul for flopping."
Thanks for clarifying that! The whole issue is that there was foot to foot contact, so why bother addressing that the call would’ve been correct if there was no foot to foot contact?
It’s hard not to think about how the remainder of the game would’ve gone if Brunson had gone to the line. Maybe the Knicks would be 1-0 instead of 0-1. The truth is that although the bad call was out of New York’s control, what was in the team’s control was missed free throws. All they had to do was hit five of the 12 that they missed to possibly win the game.
With New York’s first road game of the season coming up on Friday against the Hawks, there’s no use dwelling on what happened on Wednesday. Let’s hope the Atlanta officiating crew is better than what we saw on opening night. The same goes for the Knicks’ level of play.