NBA
March 8, 2021

Ranking the 5 Worst Referee Calls in 2021 So Far

It's a common pastime to complain about how bad referees are in any sport, but in this shortened NBA season, it seems the referees have been worse than ever before.

While the days of Joey Crawford ejecting Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench are gone, league officials have had very quick whistles and short tempers in 2021.

From passing the ball to the referee to yelling at your own teammate, there are plenty of odd ejections to choose from. And as we hit the halfway mark of the season, let's take a look at the worst calls of the campaign. 

5. Devin Booker Ejected for Passing the Ball Too Hard

So here’s what happened: LeBron James was driving toward the rim and the Suns' DeAndre Ayton bumped him in the air. The refs called a foul, and Booker clearly wasn’t pleased. He received a technical for mouthing off to the officials. And while we don’t know what he said, it probably wasn't appropriate. 

But right after that, Booker gave a bounce pass to another ref with a little bit of oomph, probably due to the fact that he just received a tech – and oom — another technical foul for passing it too hard. And just like that, Booker was tossed.

While we don’t know what Booker said, ejecting him for something as menial as a hard bounce pass is pretty pathetic. Be better, refs.

4. Joel Embiid Goads Officials Into Tossing Donovan Mitchell

The 76ers and Jazz faced off in a hotly contested contest that went to overtime, where Donovan Mitchell picked up his second technical and was promptly ejected thanks to Joel Embiid goading an official to T him up.

It’s safe to say Mitchell was not pleased with the officials throughout the game, and he didn’t hold back in his postgame press conference.

“It’s tough to go out there and see how we fight and compete, and to have a game like that taken from us, and I’m never, ever one to blame a ref, to blame an official … But this is getting out of hand. The fact that we’re just continually getting screwed, in a way, by this. We won this game, in my personal opinion … It’s getting f****** ridiculous,” Mitchell said.

Earlier in the game, Mitchell was called for an offensive foul on a play it appeared Ben Simmons initiated some contact.

3. J.J. Redick Ejected for Passing The Ball To The Ref

Refs are really sensitive about how they’re passed the ball, apparently. Against the Celtics' Aaron Nesmith, J.J. Redick ripped through at the top of the key and drew a foul as he drove toward the hoop.

After Redick stopped under the basket, he obviously realized the refs called a foul on his defender, so he made a crisp bounce pass with a bunch of spin toward a ref on the sideline. The next thing Redick knew, he was ejected.

The call was so bad that the few fans allowed in attendance started an audible “refs, you suck!” chant. While fans and players are usually too harsh on refs, who are just trying to do their job, it’s sensitive moments like these when one wonders if they deserve a chant once in a while.

2. Draymond Green Tossed For Yelling At Teammate 

Having a reputation with the refs inherently makes them more likely to 'T' you up compared to other players. And that's exactly what happened to Draymond Green

As Green walked the ball up the court, he locked eyes with teammate James Wiseman and appeared to call for a screen, but then passed the ball to Wiseman as he was departing the post, which resulted in a turnover. A simple miscommunication, and Green, the loud veteran mentor that he is, was barking at Wiseman after the turnover.

But somehow, the ref took offense to Green’s barking and assumed Green was yelling at him. All of a sudden, Green was ejected. That is unacceptable from a ref. How are you going to eject a player if you don’t even know what he’s saying and it’s not even directed at you? 

1. Montrezl Harrell Gets A Technical For Yelling 'And-One!'

Yup, that’s exactly what happened. If you’ve ever stepped onto a pickup game in your life, you know calling “and-one!" after making a basket when you think you were fouled is common practice. It’s part of the game, and people scream it out of habit sometimes because they’re hyped after getting a bucket.

Montrezl Harrell was posting up Richaun Holmes in the paint, took a bump and converted a fading floater. Sure, he screamed “and one!” loudly, but ... seriously?! 

This is getting out of hand, and it’s obvious everyone in the league needs a chance to recharge. Thankfully, the All-Star break is here.

Photo: Getty Images