Carmelo Anthony isn’t exactly one of the most beloved players in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he deserved what happened last night. Anthony, now part of Oklahoma City’s Big Three alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George, was ejected after a review determined he’d committed a flagrant-2 foul.

The only problem? He was finishing an and-1 at the time.

Take a look:

Anthony was ruled to have intentionally struck Jusuf Nurkic as he double-pumped to finish the layup, according to crew chief Rodney Mott:

“We deemed that the contact was excessive and that it was not a natural basketball move where he seeks out Nurkic, hits him in the face with an elbow and goes back to the basket. So because it’s unnatural and it’s deemed excessive, therefor it is a flagrant foul penalty two.”

So, that’s some bullshit. Apparently Carmelo Anthony is some kind of world-class martial artist in addition to being a top-level NBA scorer, because what the refs are suggesting is just about impossible. The original call had actually been a foul on Jurkic, though it was wiped away by the flagrant decision. What Anthony did is a standard basketball play; drive to the rim, seek out contact, finish strong through it and go to the line. That’s basic basketball.

Jurkic probably wasn’t trying to get hit in the face with an elbow, but that was at the very most incidental contact by Anthony, and at the other end, you can make a reasonable case that Jurkic initiated the contact, as the original call interpreted.

So, where was this coming from? Anthony had just been given a technical for complaining after Russell Westbrook had taken a shot to the face that wasn’t reviewed by officials for a possible flagrant foul, despite a timeout being called.

A few minutes prior to the play with Anthony, Westbrook was caught in the side of the face by Noah Vonleh on a reach-in move. No foul was called, but Westbrook went down to the floor, holding his face, forcing the Thunder to call a timeout. Donovan asked for a review, but the officials denied the request.

“I thought that play should’ve been reviewed,” Donovan said. “It may have proven nothing, but I think when someone gets hit in the face and goes down to the floor and you’ve got to call timeout, you should at least review it, just to make sure. I don’t know why they reviewed the other one.

“I probably didn’t ask Russell to stay down on the court long enough to get it reviewed.”

There are fewer more aggravating experiences for a fan than watching officials seemingly take over a game. Ejecting Anthony for that play is a perfect example. The Thunder eventually rallied, but ended up losing 103-99. It’s a call that is probably going to get rescinded by the league office; how could it not be?

For example, here’s a foul from Friday night, when Joel Embiid took out some frustration on Pacers guard Joe Young in transition:

That was ruled a flagrant-1! How in the world can NBA officials look at those two plays and determine that Anthony’s was more unnatural or dangerous? There’s no rhyme or reason to these interpretations, and it’s only going to afford refs the opportunity to make the game more about themselves, or to offer a bit of retribution for a previous incident.

No one wants that, and the NBA should want it least of all.


About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.