Spring is here, which means the NBA playoffs have returned in full force. Now that the Atlanta Hawks have been eliminated, I don’t feel bad taking stock of the rest of the playing field and analyzing their chances of success. For the past few seasons, the NBA champion has done a few things consistently well. They make lots of three-pointers, they play above-average defense, and Scott Foster doesn’t hate them.
Foster has been an NBA referee for 27 seasons now, and his name has started to come up more often in recent years for residing over big games with huge stakes. It doesn’t hurt that in these big games, the outcome that’s the most beneficial to the NBA usually emerges as well, with most series being extended to get more television revenue for the league. It’s gotten to the point where future Hall of Famer Chris Paul has now lost 14 straight playoff games officiated by Foster, which is truly an absurd amount and way past the point of being coincidental. Well, Foster has already started to rear his head in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
Foster has officiated three games so far in this postseason. The first game was the New Orleans Pelicans victory over the Paul-led Phoenix Suns in Game 2. The Pelicans have been without their alleged best player Zion Williamson all season long, so the league may have been trying to help them avoid a sweep by the more favored Suns teams looking to get back to the NBA Finals. The Pelicans outscored the Suns 34–22 in the 3rd quarter and built a lead that became insurmountable as the seconds ticked away in the fourth quarter. Overall, this was another job well done for Foster and his officiating crew.
The second game for Foster was the final game of the Boston Celtics versus the Brooklyn Nets, in which the Celtics completed the four-game sweep. Again, the league usually sends in Foster to extend the series because they lose out on potential revenue if a series ends after only four games. This resulted in the Nets being on the receiving end of fewer fouls (28 to 23), more free throw attempts (29 to 22), and having the Celtics’ best player Jayson Tatum foul out in the fourth quarter. To add insult to injury, the Nets somehow contrived to miss 12 of those free throws, the Celtics made some outrageous contested shots and the Nets would up losing the game by four points. This was another prime example of the age-old basketball concept “Ball Don’t Lie” preventing Foster from cheating out the Celtics, but this wasn’t over.
To avenge his screw-up in the Celtics’ last series, the NBA had Foster referee Game 1 between the Celtics and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics never stood a chance, as perhaps the thought of Foster influenced their shot selection in route to a 33% field goal percentage for the night. They never looked like they were going to win the game, which led to GM Brad Stevens leaving the game with over eight minutes left to play still. You can’t win them all, and Foster definitely proved that point to the Celtics after game 1.
If fans such as myself can pick up on these Scott Foster idiosyncracies I’m sure the league is aware, but as long as he remains a company man no one is concerned. There’s a petition on change.org to try to have Foster removed from the NBA, but I feel like that’s trying to boil the ocean for lack of a better phrase. Foster will be here to stay, and you have to come to terms with that if you choose to be an NBA fan.
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