Photo: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s game in the Western Conference Finals saw some great shots that weren’t (James Harden’s 80-foot swish), a scary injury to Steph Curry, and a flagrant foul by the Rockets’ Dwight Howard. Howard swung an elbow at Warriors’ big man, Andrew Bogut, and connected with his face, but Howard was only assessed a Flagrant-1. This occurred one night after Al Horford was ejected for elbowing Matthew Dellavedova in the Cavs/Hawks series, but was just as bad.

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Who cares, you ask?

A lot of people, myself included. After reviewing the foul, the referees still thought that it should be labeled a Flagrant-1, though it was clear that Dwight Howard and is elbow made contact with Bogut’s head and an excessive slap followed the elbow. The NBA rule states that a Flagrant-2 foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. The opposing team is awarded two (2) free throws and possession and the player committing the foul is automatically ejected.” That sums up Dwight Howard’s actions against Andrew Bogut, and shows that the NBA rule book has turned into a book filled with subjective rules. Rules that used to be so simple to call have now become language that is “interpreted” by each NBA referee, and happens sporadically at best.

Another question that subjective rules have created is whether or not referees have figured out a way to control the outcome of a game. I’m not blowing smoke up your backside, rather I’m trying to show that the NBA and other professional leagues have created a problem for themselves because the referees are not calling games according to the rules. Also, there have been officials that have admitted to impacting a game that they officiated, specifically a former official, Tim Donaghy. The NBA swears that such things don’t occur, but I think that it happens more than most people think. If Dwight Howard would have been called for a Flagrant-2, he would have been ejected and the Rockets might have been swept. Had they still hung on to win, minus Howard, he also would have been suspended for Game 5 due to flagrant foul points accumulation.

Need more proof of subjective rules and officiating?

The hack-a-player strategy has been allowed since the days of Shaq, and is used to place a poor free throw shooter on the line. It has become a defensive tactic that teams use on players like Shaq and Dwight Howard, and last night it was used on Rockets’ Josh Smith, who shot a miserable 3 for 12 from the charity stripe. How is this subjective officiating? Simple, it is an intentional foul, and should be called as such. The player being fouled in the hack-a-player scheme never has the ball, therefore the defender who is fouling is not making a play on the ball. NBA commissioner Adam Silver says that the league will look at changing the rule, but we will not hold our collective breath for the rule to be called how it should be.

There has always been royal treatment for travels and fouls for the superstars in the NBA, but things are getting out of hand. When fans are questioning the refs in almost every game and throwing conspiracy theory talk on social media, the NBA should take notice and make changes. History could have been made last night with a sweep, and a sweep in tonight’s game, but the Dwight Howard Flagrant-1 call made sure that didn’t happen. After all, extending a playoff matchup allows for the league, and the refs, to make more money, right?

So, the next time you watch a professional sporting event, remember, the refs and league need to make money too.

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What are your thoughts on the Dwight Howard flagrant foul? Do referees control the outcome of games with their inconsistent foul calls? Leave your comments in the section below.

Dustin Brown covers the NBA for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @SprtsWritingMan.

Dustin BrownAnalysisBasketballNBA#Andrew Bogut,#basketball,#Dwight Howard,#NBAPlayoffs,#Tim Donaghy,#Warriors,NBA,Rockets,Steph Curry,western conference finalsLast night's game in the Western Conference Finals saw some great shots that weren't (James Harden's 80-foot swish), a scary injury to Steph Curry, and a flagrant foul by the Rockets' Dwight Howard. Howard swung an elbow at Warriors' big man, Andrew Bogut, and connected with his face, but...