Always get the call right.
For the people complaining about how long the reviews took last night at the end of the game, I get it. Thirty minutes in real time was a little excessive for 90 seconds of basketball.
But the fact of the matter is that these games are too important to not get these late calls right. There are legacies, jobs, and tens of millions of dollars on the line for people involved. The last thing you want is to have someone’s career altered forever on a bad call.
And when we look at this situation objectively, this is likely just an outlier. I can’t see many other final minutes in the league taking that long with instant replay — because it just doesn’t happen that often.
So there’s no need for everyone to get all bothered by what happened last night. NBA rules even give a suggested timeframe for how long these reviews should take. Referees have the option to extend that window if it’s deemed necessary, as it was last night.
From the rulebook:
Replay reviews should be conducted within two minutes. Notwithstanding this general rule, discretion will be used to extend the review period as reasonably necessary under unusual circumstances, such as when the play could lead to an ejection (e.g., flagrant fouls/penalty 2), technical issues arise with the replay system, the outcome of the replay review requires multiple replay review angles or additional angles are imminent. In addition, replay reviews of Player Altercations should be concluded within whatever time is reasonably necessary, even if that time period extends beyond two minutes.
Last night was a legendary game with an iconic ending. In the long run, no one will be focused on the length of reviews in the final minutes when they think about this game. If anything, the reviews added some more suspense.
There were calls throughout the game that were crucial in deciding the outcome, and ensuring teams had a fair shot at the win. Ivica Zubac and Deandre Ayton battled for a loose ball that went out of bounds that took some time for the officials to review. Patrick Beverly knocked a ball out of bounds that last (and barely) touched Devin Booker, which also took a while to sort. Finally, it seemed like they took forever to figure out how much time should be on the clock after the game-winning Ayton tip-dunk.
I also don’t want to hear anything about how reviews mess up the flow of the game when the NBA allows players to foul intentionally to stop fast breaks and force Ben Simmons, for example, to shoot 20 free throws a game.
If we really want to have a conversation about the flow of the game, let’s not waste it on this one rare circumstance involving replay. People understand that the last two minutes of a close game take longer because of all the strategic moves made by coaches. Let’s not overreact to an event that likely won’t happen again.
Most reviews don’t take all night, and even if they take an extra 30 seconds to a minute, it’s better to get the call right than to change the outcome of the game with a wrong decision.