The best thing about professional sports is it’s a meritocracy. Unlike in the music business, where very attractive mediocre singers commonly get help from Auto-Tune, pro sports separates the wheat from the chaff better than any other competition. There aren’t judges (in most cases), only the final score. But what about the refs? Sometimes superstar status achieved by LeBron James, James Harden, Dirk Nowitzki and others makes those players appear above the rules. And that ruins the level playing field quality that separates sports in the first place.
LeBron James gets away with what he calls his “crab dribble.” James Harden is a master at picking up his dribble at the perfect moment, gaining advantage in what looks to some like a travel. But what Dirk Nowitzki does below — and it’s not that uncommon — is the NBA’s equivalent of deflated footballs. All major respect to Dirk, who’s one of the all-time greats — but this isn’t fair. And the refs not being able to see it — or worse, letting it go — really hurts the game. Nowitzki is already nearly impossible to guard. Even non superstars like Kendrick Perkins (below also) walk with impunity.