Air Check: When A Call Goes Wrong

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

The national guys aren’t perfect either. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

Here are a few more moments that made us laugh, made us smarter, or made us shake our heads.

Last Week: Showing Their Colors

1. The dagger that wasn’t

Game: Detroit @ Washington, Feb. 27
Broadcast: Washington

You’ve seen this play and heard Steve Buckhantz‘s call already, but we obviously had to include it here. It’s sort of uncomfortably hilarious.

But guess what? The Pistons announcers got the call wrong, too. And frankly, I thought the ball went in as well … and I already knew it didn’t.

Under the weather, I crashed early on Wednesday. When I woke up Thursday morning, I had an e-mail telling me that we needed to include the blown call “of Trevor Ariza’s missed shot” in the next Air Check.

So I knew the call was wrong. I knew the shot didn’t go in. And when I pulled up the game on my iPad, I knew the final score. But when I watched the play, I thought, for a split second, that the ball went through the basket.

So yeah, it was a tough moment for Buckhantz. But if you read this interview with Sarah Kogod, you’ll understand that he had a bad angle. And we’ll take a mistake like that over some of the other nonsense we hear on League Pass from time to time.

2. Classic Tommy

Game: Chicago @ Boston, Feb. 13
Broadcast: Boston

Tommy Heinsohn is an unapologetic Celtics homer. Heck, he’s been a part of the Celtics organization for most of the last 57 years. And of course, Heinsohn can go a little over the top with his analysis of officials’ calls. This one is a perfect example.

He calls the official “terrible” and says that Avery Bradley “plays this perfect.” As the replay clearly shows that Bradley didn’t beat Nate Robinson to the sideline and fouled Robinson with his shoulder, Heinsohn gets louder. “PLAYS IT PERFECT!”

“You couldn’t have played it any better than Bradley played it.”

Not really. But that’s Tommy.

3. Donatas’ Never-Before-Seen Post Moves

Game: Dallas @ Houston, March 3
Broadcast: Houston

I’ve watched this play more than a dozen times and I’m still not sure I see a travel. It’s possible that Donatas Motiejunas‘ left foot was his original pivot foot, and then he switched it to the right. He gathers the ball and makes his move so quickly that it’s hard to tell. But that’s not really the point.

What’s hilarious is Matt Bullard‘s insinuation that referee David Jones, with his 23 years of NBA experience, has never seen a move like that before.

“That’s the problem with young players in this league,” Bullard says. “The officials have not seen their moves. I think D-Mo surprised not only the Mavericks’ defender, but also the official.”

It’s also kind of funny that this was the fourth possession of the game and we’re already getting into the complaints about the officiating.

Bullard does take back his complaint after seeing the replay and Clyde Drexler notes that, you know, officials are good at their jobs. But it’s the instinct to immediately complain about a call against your team that’s bothersome.

4. Actually, he’s from Brooklyn

Game: Oklahoma City @ Denver, Jan. 20
Broadcast: Denver

Scott Hastings‘ absurd homerism was noted in last week’s post. We should probably give him some time before a second mention, but this one was so ridiculous, it couldn’t wait. Hastings continues to feed conspiracy theorists and question the ethics of NBA officials with unsubstantiated comments.

Late in a close game, Ty Lawson gets his hand on a Russell Westbrook pass, and official Mark Lindsay says the ball went off of Kevin Durant. Then Hastings takes over.

“Scottie Brooks runs to his guy Zach Zarba and says, ‘Hey can you review this?'”

“His guy.”

The officials indeed decide to review the call, because the best thing to do is make sure that the calls was right. And then Hastings chimes in one more time.

“Zach lives down around Tulsa or some place,” he says.



John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.


  1. Air check-TOMMY-TOMMY-TOMMY!!! lol 🙂

  2. gundy-just concede that Jordon is his airness-only 2nd to Mr. Bill Russell. 🙂
    get over it!

  3. How about doing air check article on how bias van gundy is w/ lebron, kobe, & wade like he’s kissing their u know what or any of todays stars that are compared to Jordon, as gundy puts them like their better than Jordon & only because he still has a long standing/hair across his u know what resentment on Jordon because Jordon put his team to shame & gundy can’t let it go so he’s trying to color commentate on who he thinks is better than Jordon-like a child. Now gundy is the most bias commentator who’s not even a homer as he travels all over.

  4. Bad call on Bradley-Bradley was there way ahead of robinson.
    Tommy’s just not afraid to call refs out on the truth of when whole games get horribly officiated-it’s a good thing.

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  6. lex says:

    sean elliot is the worst. he should be on every edition of this list.

  7. googergieger says:

    Thirty fouls called on the Magic. Thirty free throws for Miami. Three players foul out for the Magic.

    Yup the officials and the NBA have no agenda. Not even this tired piece of internet propaganda written up by a nothing who one day hopes to be good enough at what he does to be called a shill, can do away with terrible officiated games the league goes out of their way to not even mention.

    Oh and that OKC/Denver game. Who attacked the paint the most and who didn’t even get half the free throws OKC did?


  8. LALA says:

    Bradley did play that perfectly. Robinson just jumped out and I think he flopped or something…

  9. Desmodeus says:

    Full disclosure, I’m a Celtics fan but I’ve got to agree with Tommy on this one. Avery Bradley is going backwards and Nate Robinson runs into him. I don’t care if the contact is on the shoulder or the middle of the chest, despite what commentators frequently say, that’s irrelevant. You’re entitled to a cylinder defined by the width of your shoulders. That’s a charge.

    • LebronOrJordan says:

      Agree again. Out side of the Wiz game I thought most of these commentators were right. At the very least it was debateable. I think this writer had the right idea though. I have heard Tommy and other Home Town commentators go full blown homer, but these don’t fit the bill.

  10. Isaaac says:

    scott hastings hates correct calls it seems..

  11. Nash fan says:

    D-Mo’s move ain’t a TRAVEL!! what the ref!!??

    • Sunsman says:

      Mate… seriously, his up & under would have been a great move apart from his right foot lifted clearly off the ground – it wasn’t intentional but it happened – travel every time. Even if some part of his foot somehow stayed in contact with the floor – the right foot progressed across the floor – travel every time, simply you can’t shift your foot around it is called a pivot foot so you can spin on the same spot.

      • LebronOrJordan says:

        This is correct. his right foot either left the ground or slid a bit but his foot definitely moved. The ref is trained to spot these things and you have to remember, on TV it’s farther away. That ref had a better view than us.

  12. Ry says:

    I think Bullard is implying that ref’s haven’t seen what young players are capable of yet, not that Donatas has moves the ref has never seen.

  13. Tht last play was clearly on the thunder

  14. Ro says:

    Donatas’ left foot is not his pivot foot. As he spins and goes up with the pump fake, his right foot is his pivot foot. But as he fakes, the right foot lifts off the ground and comes back down. Travel. Its a small video screen so impossible to see in real time, but replay shows it. Very good call. Although im not convinced that the ref was able to see that!! I think he called an incorrect travel, and didnt actually see the real one!