A day later, the NBA front office released a statement admitting that a mistake was made, that Perkins’ tip should have been waived off. Everyone associated with the Nuggets took this to mean that the league was saying Denver should have been the victors.
Starting forward Kenyon Martin, in an “I’m not saying, but I’m just saying” manner, suggested that if the call had been made, his team would have gone up three on the next possession.
Nugget coach George Karl went further and pinned their poor play for the game’s remainder on the refs: “The goaltending thing kind of frustrated us and got us in a funk, so we don’t score for two or three possessions in a row.”
Meanwhile, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post has renamed the Thunder as the “Asterisks.”
Look, I am as tough on referees as anyone, but officiating is typically a zero-sum game. The guys in black and white miss something on one end, and later in the game, they miss something for the other guys — not intentionally, mind you.
It just happens, and it is and has always been just a part of the game.
If Thunder fans and Nuggets fans chronicled the slights they felt occurred against their team throughout the game, including the infamous botched goaltending, the damage would be approximately equal. Remember, the complaints were not that the refs had favored one team the whole game.
So, how are two points out of 210 combined for the contest supposedly so defining? After the play in question, the Nuggets took possession of the ball with a less than insurmountable one-point deficit. The result of the play was Martin taking an ill-advised, long-range jumper that the Thunder easily rebounded. On that possession, Russell Westbrook knocked down a jumper. After this, the game became a free-throw contest.
Whining coming from the Denver side ignores everything in that last paragraph. The league offices rewarded them by confirming that the one call was bad, allowing everyone else to forget that Denver was outplayed after that point.
Then, if Oklahoma City holds on to win the series (up 3-0 as of press time), Nuggets fans like Kiszla will continue to theorize that the entire outcome swung on that moment.
Luckily for those of us in Oklahoma City, NBA games are not decided by the theoretical.
Matthews is an editor of the local blog TheLostOgle.com.