If you’ve been watching the NBA this season, you’ve probably noticed that the tension between players and refs appears to have reached a tipping point. The only problem is that perception doesn’t always equal reality.
When you look at the raw data, the number of technical fouls and ejections up to this point is right on par with where it was last year. So what’s accounting for the notion that the relationship between the two sides has deteriorated to the point where they’ve had to sit down and hash things out, with the league offices even stepping in to implement a five-point plan to mitigate things?
One reason is that it’s involved high-profile players such as Kevin Durant and LeBron James. So over All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, representatives from both sides got together to discuss strategies for improving communication on court in the heat of battle, and there were some interesting ideas batted around.
Referees and players also discussed techniques for dealing with each other within games. For example, one of the actions discussed was referees giving the so-called “stop hand” to players during disagreements. While this is taught to referees as a way to diffuse a situation, it has been taken as offensive by players who want to have more of an open back-and-forth. Overall, the sides would like more open discussion of various hand signals and techniques.
It may seem like such a minor thing, but it’s still part of the bigger picture when it comes to setting the tone for their interactions. Nothing was set in stone after their meeting, but it’s promising that the two sides continue to explore avenues for improving relations.