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Stern Doesn't Want to Hear It

NBA: Commissioner says he might crack down on complaints about officiating. Adelman won't give Lakers credit.

June 08, 2002|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NBA Commissioner David Stern suggested Friday that coaches' moaning and groaning about officiating has grown tiresome, making his comments a day after further complaints by Sacramento King Coach Rick Adelman about his team's loss to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

"We accomplished a lot of things we wanted to accomplish, but it's real difficult to let that last series go," Adelman said Thursday in Sacramento. "I'm still not real happy. I'm trying to figure out why we didn't play [Wednesday], basically."

Adelman alluded to Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Lakers and New Jersey Nets at Staples Center.

Ralph Nader, a consumer advocate, had weighed in on the subject Wednesday, apparently in support of the Kings.

Stern said of coaches' complaints, "We haven't come down hard on them, but it's become so commonplace we would laugh. Perhaps we shouldn't be so easy on them because fans are more open to suggestions of problems. We're going to encourage coaches to be more muted in their suggestions [of impropriety]."

Coaches who criticize the officiating of regular-season games often are fined $7,500 or more. But complaining about the work of referees during the playoffs goes unpunished.

Laker Coach Phil Jackson was displeased by the work of the officials in Game 5 of the conference finals, when Shaquille O'Neal fouled out late in the final quarter of the Kings' one-point victory.

Adelman then complained when the Lakers shot 27 free throws during the fourth quarter of Game 6. O'Neal shot 10 free throws in the final quarter of the Lakers' four-point victory, which set up the deciding Game 7 Sunday in Sacramento. The Lakers won Game 7, 112-106 in overtime.

Adelman expressed his frustration after Sunday's game and again Thursday, in separate interviews with the Sacramento Bee and on "The Last Word," a cable sports-talk show.

"People can say what they want, that we should be happy," he told the Bee. "We missed free throws in the last game and, yes, that hurt us. You can say all of that, and fall in line that the Lakers are a better team and they showed their championship mettle and it's baloney.

"I don't buy into it, and if you want me to say that they are a better team, I'm not going to say it. But they beat us and you give them credit, but I don't think they are the better team. If someone wants to say they proved it, well, maybe to those people, but not to me."

Adelman stopped short of saying the Lakers earned preferential treatment from the officiating crews in Games 6 and 7.

"I've never been one to say because [the Lakers] won two championships, then they deserve something more in the third time they are going for it," Adelman said. "They are supposed to win the third championship like they won the other two. It's like you've got to beat them. I don't know what that means, with a board or a gun, what do you [have to] do?"

Adelman acknowledged that he was speaking out in the hope that the league would improve its officiating. He did not send videotapes to the league office to illustrate his complaints.

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