Full disclosure: I have been an avid basketball fan for nearly 30 years, and I have never seen anything like this before.
In one of the most embarrassing things ever seen in professional sports, the Twitter account for the official NBA referee’s union publicly groveled and apologized for a missed call against Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
It’s every bit as asinine, pathetic and nonsensical as you would think it to be.
Like everyone else, referees make mistakes. We made one at the end of last night’s game and that is gut-wrenching for us. This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be.https://t.co/WyN8QVuTOl
— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) January 29, 2023
Quote-tweeting a Washington Post article, the NBA Referees Twitter account did everything short of offering its firstborn child to James while groveling.
“Like everyone else, referees make mistakes,” the tweet began. While that’s an innocent enough beginning for an apology, it didn’t take long for things to veer into the sycophantic.
“We made one at the end of last night’s game and that is gut-wrenching for us,” the tweet continued. “This play will weigh heavily and cause sleepless nights as we strive to be the best referees we can be.”
“Gut-wrenching”? “Weigh heavily”? “Sleepless nights”?
Are the referees apologizing for missing a call on James or for bedding his wife? Seriously, this is an unprecedented level of groveling.
There is so much that’s just sickeningly wrong about all of this, it’s almost hard to pick a place to begin.
First of all, every team in NBA history has suffered a loss or two dozen by being on the bad end of a missed call. What, exactly, makes this missed James call so much more egregious than say the entirety of the 2002 Western Conference Finals or 2006 NBA Finals?
Second, this groveling will not be helping with the perception that the Lakers and LeBron James are coddled by the league. Are the referees going to start apologizing for the countless missed calls on Luka Doncic? Giannis Antetokounmpo? Kyrie Irving? Why is James getting such preferential treatment here?
Keep in mind that this groveling apology comes after James publicly and embarrassingly melted down, showing up the referees on a nationally televised game:
LeBron was not happy after this play to win the game. pic.twitter.com/FNMPBQTHox
— ESPN (@espn) January 29, 2023
Look at those histrionics and tell me that it deserves an apology. The referees should’ve doubled down, if anything.
Unsurprisingly, the responses to the apology tweet showed that it was not well-received at all by NBA Twitter.
— niki grayson (unofficial) (@godsewa) January 29, 2023
One of the worst things I have seen this league do. All of our teams have been on the bad end of bad calls. Apologizing because it’s LeBron is pathetic. https://t.co/ro8RQU2XoG
— Kirk Henderson (@KirkSeriousFace) January 29, 2023
“Cause sleepless nights”? Lololololol -sincerely, every Sacramento Kings fan
— Tom Mailey (@kncitom) January 29, 2023
Look, an antagonistic relationship with referees is part and parcel of being a sports fan (just ask Cincinnati Bengals fans today).
Part of that relationship is the unspoken agreement that bad or missed calls are a part of the game and happen to every team. By gum, if a referee is going to be a idiot, they just need to be an equal opportunity idiot.
Groveling to one team and player in specific? That’s almost as damning as accusations that a game was rigged.
Be better NBA.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.