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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: LeBron James’ sixth foul a bad call

Posted By Jon Lemons On June 4, 2012 @ 10:40 am In General | 33 Comments

ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to share his thoughts on the officiating and what Sunday’s win says about the Celtics.

“I thought Boston, to re-gather themselves in overtime, with [Paul] Pierce fouling out, to take that body blow, withstand it and come up with the win was terrific mental toughness on their part,” Van Gundy said.

With both Pierce and LeBron James fouling out quickly into overtime, both on plays away from the ball, Van Gundy went on to discuss the officiating late in the game. Van Gundy took issue with the call that forced James to the sideline for the only the fourth time in his career.

“I thought that was a foul on [Mickael] Pietrus, pulling [James] down, or at worst, a no-call,” Van Gundy said. “Let them both get up and play. Listen, I’m for more fouls, you know, seven fouls. I’m for sneezing so I don’t see Paul Pierce running into [Shane] Battier on an inconsequential [play], they didn’t even have the ball. I’m just not a fan of watching the last plays in that game, in such a dramatic, hard, hotly contested game with those two guys on the bench. Now, some of the fouls that people want to ignore have to be called, but I could see where a fan of both teams would not have liked the Pierce foul or the James foul because it didn’t involve the ball yet. It was just guys jostling for position.”

Van Gundy argued that by doing a good job setting the tone early in games, officials could afford to use greater discretion when making calls late in games or in overtime.

“I would tell you this, people who want the game called exactly the same way in the first quarter and the fourth quarter, I know I don’t want refereeing late in those games. There has to be a different level of certainty on those calls. In the first quarter you’re trying to establish a tone. Get the game called in the right manner. Let everyone know the amount of contact that’s going to be allowed. In the final three or four minutes of a close game I think referees have to have certainty that the play has an impact directly to giving a team an advantage.”

As for whether he thinks officials should call plays differently for star players like James or Pierce, Van Gundy was emphatic.

“No. No, no, no, no. Who’s in the game doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “It’s the certainty of the call, I think late, that you want to make sure of. There’s no setting the tone, there’s no ‘have the game called exactly the same.’ If you’ve done your job, to me, as an officiating crew, how you called the game throughout the game sets the tone that everybody knows that you don’t have to clean up anything late, because the game has been managed well right from the start.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page [1].

On the possibility of Chris Bosh returning for Game 5: “It’s hard to reincorporate somebody back into the game, particularly when you have no idea what he’s capable of from a standpoint of they haven’t been practicing live, so he hasn’t been getting a lot of live repetitions. They’re going to be coming into the great unknown if he does play tomorrow. I think those abdominal strains, as probably everybody knows, are very difficult injuries.”

On what Bosh would provide for the Heat: “Bosh is not going to give them that defensive force that like a [Kevin] Garnett coming back for the Celtics would give. But offensively it’s a much more difficult pick-and-roll combination for [the Celtics] to defend. He can knock down the 18-, 19-footer consistently well. And I just think their pick-and-roll game is much more difficult to handle if Bosh is involved as the screener.”


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[1] Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page: http://audio.weei.com/a/57148424/larry-lucchino-invites-meterparel-to-audition-to-be-the-voice-of-fenway.htm

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