Earlier this week, ESPN TrueHoop's Henry Abbott opined that the NBA Development League's goaltending rules are an "absolute no-brainer" and something he believes that the NBA should adopt. I, on the other hand, am not so sure this would be such a wise idea.
Abbott brought that up on the heels of Game 1 of the Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (#THUNDERNUGGETS) game earlier this week due to the controversy that surrounded Kendrick Perkins rather blatant -- but uncalled -- offensive interference of Russell Westbrook's jumpshot late in the game (video here).
The exact D-League rule Abbott's referring to was something I originally summed up back at FanHouse:
The NBA Development League plans to alter its rules this season to incorporate the FIBA-like goaltending rules, meaning that once the ball strikes the rim, players will be allowed to either swat the ball off the rim or tip it in, unlike the NBA's current rules that state that an imaginary cylinder exists that has the basket as its base and touching the ball while any part of it is in this cylinder -- and still has a chance to go in -- is a violation.
Watching last night's D-League game between the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Reno Bighorns, however, made me think that the goaltending rule might be good the way it is as long as it's officiated correctly. I'm not against new and exciting rules, it just seems that the below play shows that the offensive interference/goaltending/no-call rule is a bit too open to interpretation, leaving a bit too much in the hands of the officials.
The end result of the above play with just 2.2 seconds left in a game that was deciding which team went on to play in the D-League Finals was, well, interesting.
The three officials -- Tre Maddox, Brenda Pantoja and Kevin Scott -- eventually huddled at center-court and decided that they would count the free-throw and take .3 seconds off of the clock despite the fact that the ball was clearly tipped and therefore should have either been offensive interference or a two-point tip-in depending on where exactly the officials deemed the ball to be when Terrell Harris tipped Jerel McNeal's free-throw.
No matter what the right call was, it seems there shouldn't have been any circumstance that forced the officials to take time off the clock and then only count the free-throw.
Now obviously this is the D-League and there wasn't the opportunity to get multiple camera angles or even a second look at the play like there would have been in the NBA but the fact is that, even if the rule becomes more lenient, it doesn't exactly clear up any controversy and can possibly create more.
For what it's worth, the Vipers eventually won the game in overtime (highlights here), but it likely wouldn't have gone that far if the officials were able to decide on a correct call instead of the seeming cop-out by awarding the free-throw without any mention of a tipped ball.