NBA Rules: The System Gets Nellie Ball’d

“I was watching Court TV and I found a loophole in your case. I’m gonna talk to the judge about a writ of Habeas Corpus. I’ll put the SYSTEM on trial.” – Jim Carrey, Cable Guy.

Something really weird happened during the final game of the Warriors and Blazers regular season on Wednesday night. A basketball game was happening while a competition committee hearing broke out.

The situation was fairly simple: Don Nelson was being forced to play injured members of his team. When Devean George fouled out with just under four minutes to go in the game, Don Nelson wanted to keep him in the game and accept the applicable technical foul that came with doing such a thing. He’d already done it earlier in the season when Stephen Curry fouled out of a game and was allowed to keep playing. But during that game, the Warriors didn’t have eligible players in uniform sitting on the bench.

Before we go any further, watch the video I cut together from the game.

Here are some of my thoughts, reactions and things of note from this video:

– Nellie tried to let referee Phil Robinson know initially that Chris Hunter wasn’t going to come into the game. He wanted to keep Devean George in and take the technical foul. However, Eddie F. Rush takes control of the situation and explains to the Warriors coaching staff that the three eligible players (Anthony Morrow, Chris Hunter and Ronny Turiaf) were going to have to play before that could happen. In his mind and in the minds of the NBA rules, these guys should be playing in the game. Although I wanted to disagree with the referees (and did), they were ultimately correct. The Warriors tried to skate by the last game of the season without signing anymore players despite the fact that they were chock-full of injuries.

– It was brutal seeing Chris Hunter dragging his leg up and down the court. I know the Warriors were caught up in the moment a bit and didn’t really know how to approach it but I would have kept him on defense and never had him try to cross halfcourt. Especially when Chris Hunter gets knocked down on the blocking foul and is trying to get up, you know that had to have Nellie seething at this situation.

– At the 2:11 mark, I love that Nellie screams, “you’re supposed to know the rules.” It does actually seem like the refs were following the rules even though for the safety of the players involved there could be an exception made.

– Once Hunter is taken out of the game for good and Devean George is once again denied entry like a group of guys at a Vegas night club, I love the strategy that Nellie implements. Put Turiaf in, let him commit a foul right away and pull him from the game. Then when there’s a stoppage of play after Morrow goes in, pull him from the game too so that Devean George HAS to be allowed to come back in.

– For those of us that have chastised Nellie this season and the past couple seasons for not caring about his job, it’s nice to see how disturbed he was by this whole incident. He genuinely hated having to put Chris Hunter, Ronny Turiaf and Anthony Morrow into this game. He was worried for their health and safety as if he was a concerned parent.

– How about that blocked shot by Hunter?!?

– Everyone that was watching this game and not a Blazers fan was rooting for a Devean George game-winner. It would have sparked a crap hurricane throughout the media world.

– I think we’ll see this rule revisited with the competition committee in some way. Maybe it won’t be changed because after all, Nellie and the Warriors were fudging the injury report a bit. However, there has to be a way for a coach to be able to avoid bringing in his injured players.

– Stephen Curry goes OFF. 26 points in the second half for him and he scored 11 of the Warriors final 14 points to win this game. He capped off a fantastic rookie season with a 42-point effort. He’s in the same zone that I felt Allan Houston was in when he played. I can’t remember a single jumper that either player has ever missed in their careers. As far as I’m concerned, Curry and Houston have never missed a jump shot before.

– I don’t know how you could possibly not love Nellie after watching that video.

Seth Carstens