*I hate that term, but it’s the best I could come up with.
*For the record, Steph Curry is 6’ 3” and 185 pounds. He would seem just slightly tall and skinny out in public, and he’s noticeably small on a professional (or collegiate, honestly) basketball court. Roy Hibbert is 7’ 2” and fairly cut at 280 pounds. Hibbert says he never even felt Curry. That’s easy to believe when you consider Hibbert has a foot and a hundred pounds on Curry. And how he easily threw Curry around.
This isn’t to say the Pacers are blameless, because they aren’t. Everybody came in with the intention of breaking up the fight, but all the bodies in the area just kept making things worse. As the action sagged towards the seats, I did briefly have the thought that this might turn ugly and the Pacers would have yet another promising season dashed by an ugly incident with fans.
Thankfully, the only thing that seems to have happened was a security guard fainted as the players got close to the seats. That’s something I don’t think the NBA will come down too hard on, if at all, and I think a certain somebody might have figured out they might need a new line of work.
What’s more interesting to me has to do with the officials. Or one official in particular. Violet Palmer. As you might notice, Violet is a female referee in a men’s game. She actually was the first (along with Dee Katner) female official in the NBA (1997) and the first to do a playoff game (2006, with the Pacers, coincidentally enough). As you can see by the dates, the NBA has had female officials for some time now, and I really don’t remember hearing any sort of flak over the idea. Though I was only eleven or twelve at the time, maybe I just missed it. Still, it’s something nobody bats an eye at. But I was thinking about it early in the game last night as George Hill talked a call over with Palmer.
If women can officiate NBA games without a problem, why haven’t we seen it in college ball? Maybe there are female referees working men’s NCAA games, but if there are, I’ve not seen them. And I watch a lot of college basketball. I’ve also never witnessed a female official for high school, either. I’m sure that has happened, but I never saw it in all my years of watching games and being involved with the team in high school. Maybe it just has something to do with where I live, but I never even remember having a female referee in our youth soccer league growing up or when I worked as a ref. We did have one female umpire in our little league, but I really don’t know how many games she worked. And when she did, she wouldn’t do behind the plate. I happen to know that because I worked with her for her first game, and I offered her the plate if she wanted it. I don’t know if it was because she wasn’t experienced with baseball pitching vs. softball pitching, or if she was intimidated. I didn’t ask her.*
*I was a little intimidated myself. She was finishing up high school as I was starting and I think was homecoming queen. Or at least a candidate.
I didn’t give it a thought during the brawl, but I did read on Sports Illustrated that apparently, after initially going in with gusto, Palmer later decided she had no role in the dust up. Which, honestly, was probably wise. As noted earlier, an honest-to-God NBA player had no hope of breaking up the fight. What hope did a woman who played point guard in college have? We’re not talking about Brittney Griner here. Jumping in the middle of that, for her, would be neither wise nor advisable.
I’m not sure how many female officials the NBA has on their roster right now, but does the threat of something like this happening with an all-female crew mean we’ll never see more than one female ref at a time? It’s hard to say. It’s not Joey Crawford or Dick Bavetta are going to do much good in a brawl, either. But I think it’s something for the league to think about. You don’t want something like last night to blow up into something like what happened in Detroit just because there wasn’t enough neutral muscle on the court to calm things down.