Thunder Wonder if Last-Minute Playoff Whistles Are Optional

Published on 03-May-2016 by Alan Adamsson
Basketball - NBA / NBA Daily Update

The ref's open!

Who knew the 1972 Soviet Union basketball team was ahead of its time?

Dudes Comrades picked up the gold medal in Munich that year, handing the United States their first ever loss in Olympic competition.

Remember, these were the days when the American roster was totally composed of college players, while the Soviets were ... ahem ... military personnel who still had amateur status.

Doug Collins had just hit a free throw to give the USA a 50-49 lead with three seconds left, while the Soviet coach was trying to call time out. Of course, that's not allowed.

Somehow, it was ruled that three seconds should be put back on the clock, so the Soviets got another chance, with 6-11 Tom McMillen making the mistake of backing off the inbounds pass:

Now, that was the pinnacle of last-minute confusion, contrived or not.

So, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps the officials in Game 2 of the San Antonio-Oklahoma City series were simply traditionalists.

It may not have been botchery of Olympic proportions, but it was impressive in its own right:

What the hell. No harm, no foul.

There's an old adage in baseball:

It's not a strike because the pitch went over the plate,
It's a strike because the umprie called it a strike.

And there's a just-as-old tradition in hockey about swallowing the whistle in a game's closing minutes so the players can decide it.

That often creates a hesitation in an official's mind that freezes any whistle that might actually be blown.

As a result, the call is blown, and the league suits admitting it don't make the result any different.

Of course, there's also the theory that everything evens out. Somehow.

And there's also the reality that over the course of this series, the Spurs could well be too much for OKC to handle.

The Thunder have had their moment, and the refs are now on notice.

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