Tommy Nunez Jr., who refereed more than 200 NBA games, was fired by the league that, in recent weeks, has focused on its officiating to make it a cleaner game.
Since Mike Bantom took over as head of officials last month, the league has instituted a no flopping rule and it is evaluating its referees with a critical eye — and apparently eliminating those who do not grade out. This is not to say this is all Bantom; surely, the flopping fines was a policy initiated before he came on board.
The point is that in all areas of the game, the NBA is looking to refurbish, and that includes referees.
Nunez was was one of the officials during the “Malace at the Palace,” famously trying to separate players before the whole thing completely spiraled out of control with the then-Ron Artest going into the stands swinging on fans who threw a beer at him.
Meanwhile, perspectives on the fine-for-flopping policy the NBA instituted continues to garner attention.
“You know what, if LeBron and Kobe don’t get fined the most, it’s ridiculous, because out of everyone, even the (Manu) Ginobili types, they have the ball in their hands 30-40 times a game and they flop all the time,” said Phoenix’s Jared Dudley said in the New York Daily News. “If anything, it’s going to hurt the stars. There’s more offensive flopping than defensive flopping. James Harden, every time he goes, ‘Ayyyyy!’”
Defending champion Miami Heat forward Shane Battier is among the defensive stalwarts who find themselves on their back sides, whether actually knocked there or not. So, Batttier has some concerns about how actually flopping will be determined.
“Is there a flop czar?’’ Battier asked. “I wonder if they’re going to hire some intern from Harvard who’s all into sabermetrics or an expert on physics and the law of gravity, and stick him in a room somewhere. I hope they give the offensive floppers the same treatment.”
Meanwhile, the referees seem happy calling the floppers will not be their concern. One veteran official told the Daily News the other day: “The league didn’t even tell us about it at our preseason camp last month, but we love it. The onus is entirely on the player to stop flopping if he’s caught doing it. It’s got nothing to do with us.”