Skip to Content

A Humble Knicks Fan’s Take On The Officiating In Game 1

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after a play during the second half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on May 06, 2024 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The New York Knicks beat the Pacers 121-117 in Game 1, a game that will be remembered less for Jalen Brunson's 43 points or Donte DiVincenzo's 28-foot three to break a tie with 40 seconds left than it will be for some questionable officiating down the stretch. By "questionable" I mean "bad."

The game's final two minutes were a parade of stoppages, reviews, and challenges, and Brunson turning the ball over in increasingly creative ways; more rulings broke the Knicks' way than didn't, and that proved the difference in the game. With 52 seconds left, Aaron Nesmith was called for a kicked ball violation on a Knicks inbounds pass even though replays clearly showed he got it with his hand. The play was not reviewable, and crew chief Zach Zarba said afterward they had gotten it wrong. "It hit the defender's hand, which would be legal," Zarba said.

With 12 seconds left, Myles Turner was whistled on a bog-standard screen. The Pacers unsuccessfully challenged, giving the Knicks a free throw and possession, which cinched things. "We're not expecting to get calls in here," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "It would be nice if they laid off that one."

Challenging his coach for the deadpan crown, Turner said, "Just in my experience in this league, I think it's best when players decide the outcome of the game."

As a nation eagerly awaits a L2M report, let me put my cards on the table: I am a Knicks fan. Someone ask-told me last night, "You don't want to win like that." Sir, I absolutely, 100 percent do. I love it.

Do not misunderstand me: I dislike as much as the next person when officials screw up calls. I have lost sleep over late-game blown calls that have cost my team. There are grudges I will carry to my grave. It is a travesty when a game-changing call is clearly wrong. But when it happens in my team's favor, it rocks.

I have not traditionally been on the right side of many calls like these because the Knicks haven't, uh, won many games, historically. So now that I am the beneficiary of an undeserved win, I can say with authority that this rules. I wish it happened every game.

Oh, should this body check not have been overturned because it's an "obvious" and "blatant" foul and you'd have to be "blind" to miss it and "on the take" to think it's not a foul on replay? Not my problem. Knicks won.

You make an interesting point: It's silly that an obviously incorrect judgment call like the one below can't be challenged, and it's absurd it wasn't gotten right in the first place. Let me offer a counterpoint: GO NEW YORK GO NEW YORK GO.

Mew mew mew this was a ticky-tack call that can't be made in crunchtime, and DiVincenzo flopped. Do you hear yourself? That's loser talk. This is what a winner sounds like: I hope it happens again tomorrow and we go up 2-0! GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD.

Do I still wish Joel Embiid very specific ills for whistle-hunting even though that series is over? Yes. Do I still think about how Charles Smith was fouled in '93 and the Knicks were robbed and Congress should have stepped in to fix it? Of course. Will any of this give me empathy toward Pacers fans this morning, going down painfully in a series when they should have the upper hand? Not in the least. Am I concerned about makeup calls or bad karma in Game 2? Thinking about the future is also loser talk. Will I be personally aggrieved if any big calls go the Knicks' way in that one, and allude to shadowy and nonsensical conspiracy theories, and believe I've suffered more than any fan ever should or has? You better believe it. THE GARDEN IS EDEN, BABY.

Already a user?Log in

Welcome to Defector!

Sign up to read another couple free blogs.

Or, click here to subscribe!

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter