SHOULD ONLY STARS GET CALLS AT THE END OF A GAME? The article about Kevin Love not getting the free throws at the end of a game reflects a common assumption that referees treat stars better than they treat other players. The assumption underlies the argument made by Rick Adelman, Love’s coach, that Love was entitled to the free throws because he is one of the five best players in the league. (Love is a great and underrated player.) This assumption is often expressed by announcers, often by announcers who are former players. The argument is not that Love was fouled, but that Love is a good enough player to be awarded the crucial free throws.
This assumption is a poisonous one. It results in part from the fact that, as I have posted here, the rules for the last two minutes of a game have been different than the rules for the first 46 minutes. And those rules for the last two minutes are unclear: the idea is that referees should “let the players play” (not call as many fouls), but what “letting the players play” means is left to the discretion of the referees. With that much discretion for the referees, it is no wonder that all kinds of theories and assumptions develop.