In recent weeks, we’ve seen all manner of curious calls on the part of the officiating crews around the NBA. We saw Trae Young get ejected for simply staring at Kris Dunn after knocking down a clutch three-pointer during the Hawks and Bulls game last week. Afterward, even Dunn himself admitted it was beyond the pale.
Then, we saw Russell Westbrook earn a technical foul for talking to himself. We suppose the lesson there is that if you’re going to engage in a little self-admonishment, you probably shouldn’t do so within earshot of the nearest referee. Or something like that.
But what happened on Friday night during the Bulls-Clippers game at Staples Center might very well be a first. Late in the third quarter with Los Angeles leading 91-76, Doc Rivers and Jim Boylen appeared to have a few words with one another as they were stalking their respective sidelines, and before you knew it, the refs had tossed both of them from the game.
It was unclear, initially, what was said or what prompted such a swift and decisive reaction from the officiating crew, and after the game, Rivers tried to offer some clarity on what happened, claiming that Boylen was yelling at him for what he saw as illegal screens on the part of the Clippers, to which Rivers responded by telling Boylen to tell his players to call out screens.
Who knows whether that’s the extent of the exchange. Regardless, it’s certainly one of the more bizarre incidents in recent memory, and that’s saying something given the criticism levied at the referees lately.
Players criticizing officials for things not going their way is nothing new, but the accumulation of questionable incidents in recent weeks has certainly brought more scrutiny to the way games are being officiated and the type of oversight, or perceived lackthereof, in place to keep things on the up and up.