Missed Calls and Bad Referee Decisions

Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been moments of intense debate and controversy surrounding referee decisions. From missed calls to questionable rulings, these instances have sparked discussions among fans, players, and analysts. In this article, we delve into some of the most notorious controversial calls and referee decisions in NBA history.

The Phantom Foul

In Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, the Sacramento Kings faced the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Kings leading by one point and seconds remaining, a controversial foul was called against Kings player Chris Webber. This decision ultimately shifted the momentum and contributed to the Lakers’ victory, leaving fans questioning the fairness of the call.

The Blocked Shot

During Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James executed a memorable chase-down block on Andre Iguodala. However, some argued that James made contact with Iguodala’s arm, which should have resulted in a foul. The no-call ignited discussions on whether referees missed a critical foul that could have impacted the outcome of the game.

The Traveling Violation

In the closing seconds of Game 5 of the 1998 NBA Finals, the Chicago BullsMichael Jordan made a game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz. However, replays showed that Jordan had taken more than two steps without dribbling, which should have been called a traveling violation. The missed call became a topic of debate, raising questions about the integrity of the game’s officiating.

The Disputed Out-of-Bounds

During Game 2 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals, the Houston Rockets faced the Golden State Warriors. In the final seconds, the Rockets’ Chris Paul attempted a game-winning shot that was blocked by the Warriors’ Draymond Green. However, controversy arose when replays suggested that Green’s fingertips touched the ball while it was out of bounds. The missed call sparked controversy and led to further discussions on the importance of accurate officiating.

The Shot Clock Controversy

In Game 4 of the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets, a critical shot clock violation was missed by the officials. With the game on the line, the Trail Blazers’ Rodney Hood hit a go-ahead shot after the shot clock had expired. The missed call became a pivotal moment in the game and highlighted the challenges officials face in making split-second decisions.


Controversial calls and referee decisions have been an integral part of the NBA’s rich history. These instances have not only sparked passionate debates among fans and players but have also led to discussions about the role of officiating in the game. While perfection is unattainable, these controversial moments remind us of the human element involved in refereeing and the challenges faced by officials in making split-second decisions. As the NBA continues to evolve, it is important to acknowledge and learn from these unsolved mysteries to strive for fair and accurate officiating in the future.

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