Like most of you, I'm still fuming from last night's shot clock error. Obviously, it can be argued that the Hawks should have salted the game away earlier (with a 14 point lead in the 3rd Quarter) and shouldn't have let it come to a single bad call, but I'm not ok with that excuse. So, I'm officially proposing that Hawks fans rally together and tell the NBA that we're not ok with what has been called an "egregious shot-clock malfunction."
Now, to get a few things out of the way, I am in no way an NBA conspiracy theorist, and I don't think there was some big "fix" in between the Cavs, the shot-clock operator, and the refs to make the Hawks lose last night. Would I have liked to see more foul calls go our way last night? Yes, but that's the way it goes some nights especially on the road (and we've gotten some kind calls on numerous occasions in our house....not to mention the fact that we got away with having an actual hawk fly around the arena during a playoff game).
However, the reason I'm not ok with letting this particular mistake go by the way side as another "mistake" that we should let slide is because 1) I truly believe it cost the Hawks their momentum and the game (not to mention up to 10 extra seconds of game time), and 2) it opens the door to actual abuses of the system and the game...and thus cheating. You've all seen the play and the game...so, I won't bother explaining #1 because it should be obvious. As for #2, I'm talking about the fact that if home team shot-clock operators are allowed to get away with mistakes like this in crunch time of a huge game...what's to stop them or anyone else from "accidentally" doing the same thing (or something similar) in the future? As I've thought about this more and more, this is the issue that most concerns me about the call. Again, I'm not saying that the fix was in or anything like that...I'm just saying if there are not repercussions for this mistake then suddenly we have a whole new aspect of the game (that we once thought was objective) now open to the whim of the home team.
Alright, well, enough of a my ranting and onto my plan. I know the Hawks are filing a protest with the league, but based on the league's history of only allowing one protest game in the last 20 or so years (the Hawks-Heat game in 2007) and the minimal publicity the error is getting, I think it's important to let the league know that Atlanta fans are watching this issue and the league very closely. Essentially, I'm talking about a "grass-roots" effort (I hate that term...but it's the best I've got at 10 AM).
So, I've listed the NBA's address and email information below. I propose that all fans send them letters and emails letting them know our frustrations. I haven't had time to come up with a sample letter yet, but I hope to take a few minutes to come up with one soon (I'm still scouring the rule book with my lawyer eyes to find a possibly applicable rule), but if someone else wants to get the ball rolling on that, that'd be awesome. Ideally, it'd be great if we could also come up with some leverage that would make the league take notice but also not harm the Hawks (i.e. threatening not to go to games wouldn't work).
Ok, well, that's my rant for now. I'm glad I got it out of me and I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts. I hope we can all (Hawks fans and any fans of good basketball) rally together and maybe get something done.
The National Basketball Association
645 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10022
Attn: Fan Relations
NBA email: http://www.nba.com/email_us/contact_us.html
UPDATE 1/2/2010: axhfan proposed a great letter that is both short and to the point. So, I'm including it in the main post as possible sample letter for us to send (with a minor changes, specifically I found out that Bernie Fryer is the Director of Officiating for the NBA and included that at the top)
Dear Commissioner Stern and Director Fryer
As I understand it, the Atlanta Hawks organization has filed a protest in response to an error in the shot-clock during their 1/30/09 road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I just wanted to inform the league that as a fan I will be watching the ruling in this case very closely.
If the league chooses to let an error like this go unchecked, it will cast serious doubts as to the legitimacy of future errors.
I personally do not believe the malfunction was done purposefully. But if the NBA sends a message that mistakes such as this will go unpunished, I am afraid that the door will be opened for game manipulation and officiating abuse.
I only wish the National Basketball Association will do the right thing and rectify the mistake.
With hope for the game,