Monday , Jan , 14 , 2008 Christopher Sells

The Heat, the Hawks, and the WABAC Machine

The Heat, the Hawks, and the WABAC MachineThe Miami Heat aren’t as bad as previously thought. At least not by one game. I think. To be honest, I’m very confused.

If you haven’t heard, the Hawks and the Heat will replay the final 52 seconds or so of their December 19 game, a 117-111 Atlanta victory. Mr. Peabody and Sherman will not be refereeing. In fact, there will be no time travel shenanigans at all.


Apparently, there is a little-known rule that allows teams to protest the outcome of games based on the errors of the officiating crew. I was less than a year old the last time this happened, December 14 1982. 25 years later, here we are again.

Here’s why the game is being replayed: With 3:24 left in the fourth quarter of said game, Udonis Haslem fouled someone. The official scorers mistakenly credited Shaquille O’Neal with the foul, giving him five fouls instead of the four he was supposed to have. When overtime rolled around and Shaq picked up a foul, he was sent to the bench erroneously. The Hawks would go on to win the game, with the Heat using the Big Disqualification as the excuse for their loss.

So, after reviewing all of the evidence and perhaps having a powwow in some darkened league office, the NBA decided that the Heat and Hawks will redo that final minute or so before their game on March 8, this time without the "clear competitive disadvantage" caused by Shaq’s absence.

This apparently makes sense to someone. I’m not sure whom, but we should find out so that we can contact him and smack him and the league for this silliness.

Will the players have to simulate the rest of said game so that the 52 seconds will be legit? Will there be wind sprints to make sure the proper amount of fatigue is there? Will the same crowd have to attend and be in the exact same seats doing the exact same things? What if this had happened in the third quarter? What if a player is traded away from either team before then? Will they have to make a special appointment to be in Philips Arena on that night, regardless of whether their new team has a game that night? Will the same referees be there? There are far too many factors to try to pretend that this is at all logical.

And what kind of precedent will this set? Will other mistakes by game officials cause more games to be replayed? Maybe Mark Cuban can get the league to review that blatant backcourt violation that Dwyane Wade committed in the Dallas/Miami Finals. Should every game that Tim Donaghy reffed be replayed? Can we rip that victory that the Cavaliers got in the playoffs two years back because LeBron took four steps without a travel being called? Can we send the Portland TrailBlazers to the 2000 Finals because Steve Smith got fouled but didn’t receive the call? He was money from the free throw line that year. How about Jordan’s "final" shot? Can we call the push off and give possession back to Utah?

I’m having a little fun with the topic, but my point is that it’s ridiculous. Bad calls and mistakes have always been a part of the game. And there have been plenty of those over the years. What makes this call, in a meaningless regular season game between two marginal teams, more important than any of the others in the last 25 years?

Maybe if the league focused on improving its product and the way it is officiated, things like this wouldn’t be necessary. Or maybe they should just pump a few billion dollars into time travel research. At least that way, we’ll all know when we see a little red-haired boy and a bespectacled white dog with a bowtie that NBA screwed something up. Again.