The Coach’s Challenge system in the NFL isn’t perfect, but it’s crucial to the game. Let’s face it, the zebras are all human, so there are mistakes in every game. Sometimes (especially in the playoffs) those miscalls seem a little one-sided, but that’s a topic for another day. The bottom line is the red flags keep everything somewhat under control and in-check.
Monday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder would have been littered with red flags—or maybe red beanbags as Clips head coach Doc Rivers suggested once again after his team’s 100-99 loss.
“I’d put mine in my sock,” said Rivers, planning for the future.
The last two minutes of the game were riddled with officiating errors. Clippers’ J.J. Redick had his jersey pulled by Dion Waiters before attempting a three, Russell Westbrook tripped up Chris Paul on a lay-up that would have tied the game, and Kevin Durant’s game-winner was set up by an illegal Serge Ibaka screen.
All three missed calls were acknowledged by the league office, but that doesn’t change the outcome.
“Those non-calls or calls or whatever you want to call them lost the game for us,” said Rivers. “If we had a coach’s challenge the last two minutes of that game, we win the game.”
A novel idea for sure. And as a member of the NBA’s competition committee, Rivers’ word may carry enough weight to implement this system eventually.
But how would it work?
I’m glad it’s not my job to figure that out. Unlike the NFL, NBA action doesn’t stop between positions, shots, and plays. So when does the coach have to toss the beanbag? Immediately? We’ve all seen the way coaches complain to the refs at the end of games, so that’s just asking for a 30-minute last two minutes.
It’ll be tough. The committee won’t really be able to follow the NFL’s example on this one either. In football, all challenges in the last two minutes come from the booth. Rivers’ suggestion would make coach’s challenges available only within the last two minutes. The NFL also sure as hell doesn’t allow penalties and non-calls to be challenged—with possession already reviewable, that’s basically the only thing the NBA would be allowing challenges for.
Best of luck figuring this one out.