If there are any disagreement in the court, NBA officials are present to quickly settle the dispute. We’ve all been dependent of the NBA referees whenever we watch our favourites go against other teams. But, what if we can’t trust the calls being made in the court?

A referee’s job is to make a decision over a matter in an objective point of view. Not only that, but a referee also has to make most of the decisions as the game progresses and we all know how NBA games are.

Adrenaline partnered with competitiveness can produce chaos. It’s up to the referee to put things into order but what if the calls they make seem dubious? There have been speculations amongs fans and critics that some games in the league are fixed but there’s not much evidence to back up this theory. 

On the other hand, NBA history has witnessed inaccurate calls, proving that referees are still bound to make mistakes as humans. However, it’s still in debate whether the refs made innocent mistakes or were the calls maliciously made.

Take a look on some of the worst referee calls ever made in an NBA game and weigh in for yourself.

Bill Laimbeer’s Phantom Foul (June 19, 1988)

Referee: Hugh Evans

It was the Game 6 of the NBA finals with the Detroit Pistons going against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pistons were leading 102-101 when Lakers guard Byron Scott made a pass to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the low post.

Ball at hand, Abdul-Jabbar was guarded by Pistons centre Bill Laimbeer. Abdul-Jabbar then made a move for one of his classic skyhooks. The ball went off the rim but, all of a sudden, a whistle was blown. 

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Referee Hugh Evans imposed a foul to Laimbeer, making it his sixth one. Laimbeer and the others stood in disbelief. Replays show that Laimbeer barely touched Abdul-Jabbar so, why did the referee make the call? 

On top of that, it’s odd how it was called considering the game was a crucial point with the world title on the line. Abdul-Jabbar made both free throws and the Lakers ultimately won and continued on to Game 7 where they were crown the champions. So, people are left asking, ‘What if?’

Sacramento Kings’ Foul upon Foul (May 31, 2002)

Referees: Dick Bavetta, Ted Bernhardt, Bob Delaney

The Lakers’ win against the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference finals is considered as one of the greatest playoff series in NBA history. The two-time NBA champion Lakers were in danger of not making it into the cut when they went against the greatest Kings team of all time.

However, the referees seemed to have stepped in to help the Lakers. The Kings found themselves accumulating foul after foul throughout the game. This resulted in the Lakers attempting 27 of their 40 free throws in the fourth quarter. 

On the other hand, the refs did not seem to take notice that Lakers star Kobe Bryant elbowed Kings guard Mike Bibby when he attempted a tying shot. Because of these, there were claims that the game was rigged especially when the Lakers went on to win their third straight championship.

Marcus Camby’s Ridiculous Foul (April 26, 2010)

Referee: Joey Crawford

It was a series tie between Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers when they went against each other in the Game 5 of the season. The Suns were in the lead with 65-58 against the Trail Blazers. 

Suns guard Steve Nash had the ball in about 30 feet from the basket. Meanwhile, Portland Trail Blazers forward Marcus Camby was below the high post. Nash makes the pass to his teammate and, out of nowhere, a whistle was blown. 

Despite the distance between the two players, the ref called Camby for fouling Nash who was later awarded two free throws. On top of that, it was Camby’s fourth foul so he had to leave the game. It may have an effect to the Trail Blazers since the team never recovered and the Suns proceeded to win the game.

Some people would say that this was the worst referee call in the NBA history. Furthermore, it only strengthened Joey Crawford’s reputation for ridiculous calls throughout his career.

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