Garnett Foul Reveals Illogical Reasoning

Naturally, there was a huge outcry following the offensive foul called on Kevin Garnett that cost the Celtics a chance to tie the game very late in the 4th quarter. Garnett was clearly moving on the off-ball screen but the call was deemed wrong by many, including the likes of Pardon the Interruption’s Mike Wilbon, because of the situation during which the foul occurred.

Apparently, if there are 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter, offensive fouls of this sort are not supposed to be called. The fact that it is uncommon for a moving screen to be called during crunch time justifiably warrants some criticism. It’s like the lane violation that was called during this year’s March Madness that cost the Notre Dame fighting Irish an opportunity to move onto the next round. It doesn’t seem right.

Following the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers did not deny that Garnett committed a foul. Rather, he pointed to the, supposedly, numerous similar offensive fouls that went uncalled throughout the game. A valid argument.

However, the anger surrounding the Garnett call illustrates a major flaw in our way of thinking. It is the logic across many sports that has more holes in it than a 6-year-old soccer team’s defence. Why humans feel that the rule book should become more lenient as a game moves into its latter and more stressful stages is baffling.

A foul should be a foul no matter what the circumstances may be.

The rule book is there for a reason. It isn’t meant to be enforced only when it so pleases us.

Fans don’t want referees deciding the games but by choosing not to make certain calls they are doing more to affect the game than they ever could if they called the game the way it was designed to be called. A referee making calls in tight, late games does not necessarily mean that they are doing more to determine the outcome of the game than the players.

It goes both ways. Paul Pierce did not get the opportunity to shoot the game tying 3-pointer. On the other hand, if Garnett had not been whistled for blocking much like a good right tackle, Andre Igoudala would have been caught up in the “screen,” unable to come close to challenging the Pierce attempt. Either way, someone gets the short straw. The question is, who deserves it?

Sports society has been brainwashed into believing that there should be 2 different rule books (actually 3 considering that stars are nonsensically assumed to get more calls. But that’s a story for another day). 1 rule book for most of the game and 1 rule book for crunch time. This is the way things are done so we accept the unacceptable. Wouldn’t you like it if your boss was more lenient to you on Fridays?

Life doesn’t work the way. Sports shouldn’t either.

The NHL is the biggest culprit of all the major North American professional sports. The 3rd and overtime periods are an anarchist’s dreams. They tried to change that post-lockout but the 2 rule book mentality is too deeply engrained in sports. The referees have reverted back to their old ways. Not a shocker there. They can’t help themselves.

The referees got the call right in Boston on Monday evening.

I mentioned that Doc Rivers citing the inconsistency of the referees is a point not without merit. The players need to know what they are allowed to do out on the floor. That can’t change from quarter to quarter.

Unfortunately, the legitimacy of Doc’s argument also demonstrates another error in our logic.

Consistency is a large part of being a first-rate referee. In spite of this, consistency is often times given too much worth. People will take consistency no matter what the referee’s interpretation of the rules are. Any way you slice it, it is wrong to think that an MLB umpire giving 3 inches off the plate is alright as long as he is unwavering with his strike zone.

Judging by Doc Rivers’ argument, it would appear as though he would be fine with a moving screen off the ball going uncalled for either team as long as it goes uncalled for the entire game.

Again, the rule book is there for a reason. For some odd reason though, consistency trumps all. Variations and bending of the rules is fine if it is consistent.

Consistency is good. But it should be consistency by the book.

It’s the acceptance of these senseless reasoning’s constructed upon foundations as solid as an Elizabeth Taylor marriage that bothers me most. A change in philosophy should come but that is highly doubtful.

Kevin Garnett’s foul expectedly stirred up a lot of controversy.

Too bad it was for all the wrong reasons.

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Agree? Disagree? You can also E-mail Chris at or reply in the comments section below.


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10 Responses to Garnett Foul Reveals Illogical Reasoning

  1. Jsportsfan says:

    Great points. Little tired of this thinking that refs shouldn’t determine the outcomes of games. If a player commits a foul, call it. Plain and simple. Scary thing is, it’s the view of the minority.

  2. Sports Cloud says:

    This is very true. I couldn’t have said it better myself. A foul in the first 10 seconds of the game has as much of an impact on the game as a foul called in the final 10 seconds. It all adds up.

  3. jpalumbo says:

    Nice, comprehensive response to this controversy. The argument between the accuracy of a given call and the consistency with which that call is made is going to go on and on.

    Personally I’m less concerned with the timing of the call than I am with how out of place it felt in this particular very physical, leniently called game.

    What is a foul in the first quarter should be a foul at the end. But in this game, that sort of physicality wasn’t a foul earlier. It was the right call but not in keeping with the rest of the game.

  4. I agree with you, CR.

    It was a foul.

    Garnett wasn’t in position to set that screen, had to move and was thus called for the offensive foul. That next day, I heard tons of pundits, including Bruce Bowen, say the refs need to let the players play at crunch-time, that they shouldn’t let the whistles affect the outcome of the game.

    But let’s say Pierce hits that three. Isn’t the no-call on Garnett then affecting the game?

    It was a good call by the ref. I don’t think you’d hear KG deny that.

    Speaking of KG, you might like this…

  5. First of all, thank you for your feedback and kind words on my blog! My opinion on your blog is similar to yours on mine, and I think we both agree that the problem with officiating in any sport is that all calls are up to subjective descretion. Referees can make an initial call and whether it’s right or wrong, look at the replay on SportsCenter a day later and feel a complete opposite way. The problem with society and sports fanatics is the unwavering notion to overanalyze these calls to the death and by that I mean ESPN replayed the last ten seconds of the Celtics/Sixers game all day long yesterday, and while it makes great discussion, it doesn’t matter because the call was made and the game is over. Referees will never win because each person watching the game is seeing it through his or her own eyes: it’s all subjective and situational despite the rule book, even though rules are established for a reason.

  6. Neil Noonan says:

    Thanks for reading my blog Chris.

    Doc’s right here, you can’t make that call with the game on the line if you hadn’t called it throughout the entire game. The problem I have is we’re talking about why the call happened. If that was never called, none of us would have flinched, because it was going on all game. Garnett does it on half of his screens, watch his elbows! Paul missed, the Sixers finish with free throws and that’s that.

    There’s a reason we still have humans officiating the game and not robots. There’s calls in the game of basketball that are completely judgmental. Screens, blocks, charges, traveling, goal tending, flagrants, technicals etc. The refs most important job, like you said, is to maintain consistency and to blend in within the game – not to be the star. They shouldn’t be what we’re talking about two days later.

    That’s why you don’t make that call. Let the boys play it out themselves.

  7. I hear ya man. Good write. I think every sport has a “book of unwritten rules”. Calling a foul in the last 10 seconds of a game on the offense is considered one of the apparently. I agree with you though. A foul is a foul is a foul is a foul… He looked like an offensive lineman trying to block Jodie Meeks. Let’s see and HOPE! the Sixers can pull out game 3 tonight! LETS GO SIXERS!

  8. Wow, looks like a tough blog to write – needing to do all sports. I think it’s great and I will definitely be following you!

  9. Garnett’s also thankful for the motivation given to him by way of the criticism leveled against him , hence the reason he’s said to have raised the level of his play . Now what ?

  10. youngkerux says:

    I agree mostly. I agree that a foul is a foul no matter when during a game. But I also agree that there is also some subjectivity to it. Players know this–when will a referee call a foul. Will he call a foul when I do this? How about when I do this? Players do this in the first quarter. They test how the officiating will go. Referees are not perfect and they perceive things differently than another set of referees. The key is consistency. If they call this kind of fouls throughout the game, they should call it late in the fourth quarter and vice versa. They cannot all of a sudden change “the way” they call things.

    Speaking of referees, they also tend to make amends whenever they make a bad call and in the process controlling the game. When they make a bad call against a team; they will make amends by making the next call in their favor. They do this regardless of what really happened in the play. This is just a disgrace to basketball. Why can’t we just all play ball?

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