No one likes to remember the no-calls. It hurts. No-calls have skewed so many games that have potentially altered the course of NBA history. Simply put, nothing is worse than a game being so terribly officiated, that it literally changes the entire outcome. Nevertheless, it’s inevitable part of a sport where referees are always subject to human error at the end of the day. Unless we get some sort of artificial intelligence in the future that can officiate games to absolute perfection, no-calls are here to stay. Thus, we take a look at the 10 worst no-calls in NBA history.
10. Amir Johnson’s double dribble
You know it’s bad when the player knows it himself. In this case, Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors definitely knew that he got away with a mind boggling double dribble against the Portland Trail Blazers. Three referees missed the call as even Johnson was seen laughing when he was running back down on defense. Just look at the disbelief on Terry Stotts’ face. How can you miss that?
9. Vince Carter slaps Morris Peterson, but the latter gets tossed
This was just plain silly as Vince Carter playfully slapped Morris Peterson, Peterson returned the favor, and then Peterson got ejected. As for Vince Carter? No-call. While the two players were obviously just fooling around to begin with, the officials apparently didn’t like the move. To be completely honest, if anyone had to get tossed, it should have been Carter instead as he “initiated” the action. Better yet, the two of them could have been ejected if the referees wanted to. It was just silly to see Peterson get ejected while Carter was left unscathed.
8. LeBron James travels before potential game-winning layup
LeBron James clearly traveled on this play. He took an extra step on his way to the basket and you can just see that everybody in the building knew that he committed a traveling violation. Nevertheless, when the referees couldn’t judge the game fairly, the basketball gods stepped in as James actually missed the uncontested layup. However, he redeemed himself later on with a mind boggling fadeaway three-pointer to extend the game to overtime. Would the Wizards have won if they called the traveling? Maybe. But this no-call gets a slight pass as the game could have gone either way.
7. Kevin Durant “saved” the ball out of bounds
No. Kevin Durant clearly got away with this call. As we respect the hustle of the guy trying to save the ball out of bounds, his feet were literally outside the court already as he tapped the ball back. This play eventually culminated in Stephen Curry hitting a jump shot to put the Golden State Warriors up by two over the Houston Rockets. Luckily, this no-call didn’t decide the fate of the game as James Harden got the last laugh with a last second game-winner in overtime.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo steps out of bounds before hitting the “game-winner”
Yikes. It’s absolutely dreadful when a no-call directly affects the outcome of the game. The commentator even called this one out, “We should be going to overtime. Instead, we’re going home.” Giannis drove to the baseline and clearly stepped on the line before eventually dunking the ball.
5. James Harden gets “fouled” on four three-pointers
Disgusting. Love or hate James Harden and his controversial step-back three, it’s hard to argue against his uncanny ability to create contact. While there’s a common idea that the playoffs are more physical, it certainly doesn’t warrant the physical contact that Harden received on four separate plays. All of these three-point attempts clearly indicate that he was fouled, but the officials just seemed to be disinterested. What makes this worse? This was a win or go home game that may just have rewritten history based on only four no-calls.
4. Paul George’s potential game-tying 3
This one still hurts. With the Utah Jazz leading the series 3-2, the Oklahoma City Thunder needed to win in order to stay alive in the series. Just as Paul George was going for the tie with a three-point attempt, he was definitely fouled by Rudy Gobert on the way up. Nevertheless, the call wasn’t made and it eventually led to the playoff exit of the Thunder. What if George was called for the foul and he made the free throws? Well, maybe they would have won the game, won the series, and won over Paul George for the next few seasons? Who knows, all we can do is just speculate now.
3. Kevin Love Final Possession, Shawn Marion Hits Arm
How is this not a foul? The commentators, fans, players, coaching staff, and basically anyone who was watching knew that this play was a foul. Not to discredit Shawn Marion from the Dallas Mavericks as a decent defender, but he clearly fouled Kevin Love on his potential game-winner from the arc. Love could only chuckle at the afterthought that no call was made in which it ultimately cost the Minnesota Timberwolves the game.
2. LaMarcus Aldridge gets “fouled” on a potential game-winner
Absolutely unfair. While there is a notion that referees let players loose without making much calls when it comes to tight games, obvious calls should still be called nonetheless. Here, Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies clearly initiates body contact and hits the arm of Lamarcus Aldridge who was attempting to shoot a three-pointer. This was a no-call that cost the San Antonio Spurs the game. What a shame.
1. Kings vs. Lakers Game 6, Mike Bibby gets elbowed
This game was arguably one of the most controversial ones in recent history as it had no-calls, wrong calls, and was just plain rigged. In fact, just look at all the amount of content on YouTube and you can tell that everyone feels the same way. It was simply obvious who the referees wanted to win that night. As the Kings were up 3-2 in a best-of-seven series, you can make the argument that it would be best for the NBA to milk out the series in seven games rather than ending it at six. Be that as it may, fans certainly didn’t think that it would get so bad that it would spur a plethora of conspiracy theories up until this day. So many things happened in this game such as the Lakers shooting more free throws in the fourth quarter than the Kings did the entire game and Vlade Divac getting pushed around by Shaq in which the foul gets called on him. Nevertheless, the icing on the cake was Kobe’s no-call elbow to Mike Bibby’s face as it potentially changed the fate of the series in favor of the Lakers.