Though copping to the Celtics/Bulls playoff series as “The Best NBA First-Round Series Ever Played”, AOL Sports’ Jay Mariotti can’t quite fathom why Rajon Rondo’s Game 5 face rake of Brad Miller was considered less suspension-worthy than Dwight Howard’s attempted decapitation of Samuel Dalembert. “To all the prejudices and biases that complicate our tangled world,” pontificates the Mascara Fiend, ” today we add ‘oafism.’”
Translated, the league took care of the little guy and blew off the big dope. Oafism, we’ll call it. Or, positionism. Why was Howard suspended and Rondo not even punished? Why the double standard? Shouldn’t the Bulls and Magic wonder why Rondo gets to play his Game 6 and Howard doesn’t? And if the roles were reversed — Miller as the perpetrator, Rondo as the victim — don’t you think Miller would have been flagrantly flagged?
In a compelling postseason with rising TV ratings, the league doesn’t need officiating inconsistencies to detract from the gripping action. We aren’t far removed from the Tim Donaghy point-shaving scandal that, while apparently an isolated case, red-flagged some suspicions about hanky-panky. As a difficult game to officiate, pro basketball always will have a gray area when it comes to calls. But it’s inconceivable that on the very same night in the playoffs, one hard shot to the head results in a suspension while another hard shot to the head warrants no action. Jackson is dead wrong about Rondo going after the ball. In the final seconds of overtime, with Miller on an unimpeded path to a game-tying basket, Rondo turned into one of Bill Belichick’s linebackers on a goal-line tackling mission and went straight for the face. In Memphis on a December evening, it’s a flagrant foul. In Sacramento on a March afternoon, it’s a flagrant foul.