By Dan Bernstein–
CHICAGO (WSCR) We have a tendency in this town to look for scapegoats when things go badly for the home team. Ask Steve Bartman, Hue Hollins, Jerry Dybzinski, and the Gatorade-soaked glove of Leon Durham.
It’s human nature to take out frustration on an easily-identifiable, nearby target (right, Andrew Bynum?), and it’s almost always misguided. Such is the case if you’ll choose to be one of those today piling on referee Bennett Salvatore for his screwed-up call in the fourth quarter last night.
With the Bulls trailing by six with 2:27 left, Derrick Rose appeared to be fouled by Jamal Crawford on a three-point attempt. Salvatore blew the whistle, and it looked like Rose would have the chance to cut the deficit to three from the line. Oddly, however, Salvatore waved it off, declaring “inadvertent whistle,” and signaling a jump ball. Hawks won the ensuing tip, got a dunk from Al Horford, went up by eight and pulled away.
The postgame explanation made it weirder. “An inadvertent whistle is when a ref blows his whistle and didn’t mean to,” Salvatore told a pool reporter after the game. “I didn’t think it was a foul. Having watched replay, it was a foul. I made a mistake. I was wrong.”
Usually, inadvertent whistles occur at odd times – truly accidents, when a ref coughs or forgets he has the whistle in his mouth. Everybody stops, looks around, and says “Huh?” Then things are reset and there’s no harm done. In this case, though, it seemed he called a foul that he saw, then un-saw it and un-called it. First time many of us have ever seen that.
Too bad. I advise you to let it go.
Even respected, veteran refs screw up. Salvatore did not expose the Bulls’ slow, indecisive rotations on defense, nor did he cause the offense to stagnate as Kyle Korver launched a barrage of wayward scuds and everyone else stood around watching Rose miss shots and fumble the ball.
Take your cue from the Bulls themselves, who were as professional as could be, knowing their poor play was responsible for the outcome. Rose was cool with it, saying “That’s basketball. Hopefully next time they’ll call it. It was a tough game. No excuses. I put this game on me. Two turnovers at the end.”
Tom Thibodeau, in his signature Confucian style, said “Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t.” Even he had a bad night, failing to find an adequate counter to the Hawks’ larger, more aggressive front line early, and picking up a late technical by Webbering himself.
Some of you will fire off emails and make angry phone calls today, saying things like “That call changed the game!,” “We were robbed!” and, from the one unhinged creep who lost money, “Everybody knows the games are fixed!”
Save it. You know what changes games? Defense. Oh, and rebounding, making shots and taking care of the ball at important times.
Salvatore’s bizarre mistake is nothing more than a convenient focal point after a night when plenty else went wrong.
The Hawks made the Bulls lose and the Bulls made the Bulls lose.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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