NBA referees don't exactly have the best reputation amongst sports officials. Some of this is undue conspiracy theorists believing that their strings are being pulled by puppet master David Stern. Some of the closer scrutiny is probably warranted. Then again, some of it is absolutely legitimate. Ken Mauer is one of those referees that has come under his fair share of scrutiny. Who can forget his classic run-in with Tommy Heinsohn several years ago? Check out the end of the video for one of my favorite post-game segments of all-time!
"This Kenny Mauer should go home to his wife, cause nobody here likes him."
Then, there was an episode earlier this season when Mauer called five, yes FIVE technicals in less than ten seconds of game action during a Spurs/TWolves game in Minnesota. FIVE. TECHNICAL. FOULS. Who does he think he is, Billy Crystal?
As if those on-court incidents aren't enough, Mauer went to prison and was convicted of felonies in the NBA referees plane ticket scandal that broke in the early parts of the decade. To continue to try and one-up himself, Mauer is in the news again. The latest comes from SB Nation Arizona, where they report that the referee was fined by the league for using inappropriate behavior towards Suns rookie Zabian Dowdell at the close of the regular season. Allegedly, Mauer told Dowdell "to stop being a little b*tch." Mauer then ejected both Dowdell and teammate Aaron Brooks. Stay classy, Kenny. Here's what the NBA told SB Nation Arizona...
"Both Kenny Mauer and Zabian Dowdell were fined after a review of the situation. While we do not believe Mauer used the language that was reported, his actions were still deemed to be inappropriate."
At the time of the incident the Suns instructed their players not to talk about what had happened. Dowdell, in a locker room interview, did acknowledge he was disrespected by the ref and that he asked Mauer if he would say that to him off the court.
Mauer refereed Game 1 of the Portland/Dallas series, but seriously, how can the NBA allow guys like this to still be employed by the league? When will the NBA take seriously the need for referees to stop being egotistical maniacs (somewhere Steve Javie is laughing maniacally with his Allen Iverson voodoo doll) and to just referee the game that is in front of them. At this point, will the NBA ever be able to put the stigma of corruption and mistrust of their refs behind them? When you see Kobe get a call down the stretch in a close game tonight, will you think he earned it, or will you think that the league is protecting LA's chance to advance? Just now on PTI, Michael Wilbon is mocking a possible free throw discrepancy in tonight's games. Can David Stern be happy about this??? Part of me feels bad for NBA refs and how much criticism they take, but then I read stories like this and feel that the criticism and scrutiny is not enough. Maybe while the league is locked out next year, David Stern can do something about the conspiracies, scandal, and overall embarrassing behavior associated with his referees. It would help the Association a lot.