Earlier this morning the WNBA announced that for the second game in a row, there had been an officiating error:
NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2016 – Renee Brown, WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, issued the following statement today regarding a play late in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Sparks’ 77-76 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday at Target Center:
“After reviewing postgame video, we have determined that Nneka Ogwumike’s shot with 1:14 remaining in regulation time should not have counted due to a shot-clock violation, and that the referees improperly failed to review the play under the instant replay rules.”
In Game 4 Sunday, referees failed to call the Lynx for an 8-second back court violation, which would have given the ball to the Sparks.
To cast uncertainty and doubt on not one but two games of the championship series of a professional sports league is unconscionable. Not to mention shocking.
It's not like longtime fans of the WNBA, like myself, are unfamiliar with the league's trademark of horrendous officiating. Newer fans have trouble believing me when I tell them it used to be worse, but it did. There were too many games in early days that would leave me enraged afterwards for the terrible and unfair calls. It definitely took away from the game experience.
If officials had made the right call Sunday, I don't believe there would have been a Game 5, as the Sparks would have won. Last night the shoe was on the other foot, as a call on LA was missed. It seems even.
I've never quite got over last year's Western Conference showdown between the Lynx and Mercury, where a foul was called on Phoenix's Noelle Quinn that was later retracted. The call gave Maya Moore a foul shot and Minnesota a one-point win. The Mercury should have won that series, but because of that error, the Lynx went on to win the whole thing.
Games should never, ever be decided by officials, but by play itself. The WNBA has done a great job this season of boosting interest in the playoffs. Their next step now is to clean house and hire some competent referees. The life of the league depends upon it.