If you spent your Friday evening doing something other than watching late-night West Coast basketball, you missed quite a controversy.
The Blazers and Jazz were in a tight contest as the clock wound down in the fourth quarter. Damian Lillard, the clutchest basketball player alive right now, dribbled the ball at the top of the key down by two with the shot clock off. He drove into the paint to try a layup and tie up the game. He tossed it up... the ball hit the glass... then Rudy Gobert, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the league's premier rim protector, swatted it away.
To call the sequence a dictionary definition of goaltending would be underselling just how obvious it is. But there was no call. The Blazers lost. Ryan Ruocco, on the call for ESPN, couldn't believe his eyes. Lillard and the rest of the Blazers were enraged. It was a big ol' mess.
Why wasn't Rudy Gobert's goaltend reviewed?
This season, the NBA introduced a new set of replay rules within the final two minutes of the game for one would imagine would be exactly for circumstances like this. But the refs, even if they wanted to, could not review the play. Why? Because they can only review a called goaltend, not a missed call.
Missed calls happen, and are a part of sports as much as anything else. But, as Lillard points out, this call could have massive playoff implications down the line. The replay review system was instituted specifically for circumstances like these.
But, as with the NFL, it's anything but perfect. This just further proves that. It is tough to find a legitimate solution, however. If refs were given the power to review everything, or if there were a higher power installed over them to tell them when to review close calls, the league runs the risk of severely slowing down the end of close games, which is already a big criticism of the game as it stands.
The referees are only human, and the replay system was made to help offset their biggest errors in their biggest moments. But we already knew it wasn't perfect. Far from it, in fact. This just hammered that home.