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NBA Ref Admits ‘Stalling’ for Commercial Time on Live TV

We all know that professional sports (not to mention college) owe their very existence to TV and they basically do whatever TV wants. They want more NFL games: we get Thursday night football. Want more MLB games: playoff series go from best of 3 to best of 5. And of course, there are the “TV timeouts.” Of course TV wants more because that means more ad revenue.

But never has that been made more abundantly clear than during a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. According to a report by Ben Golliver on SportsIllustrated.com, NBA referee Billy Kennedy was caught on a hot mic telling the teams’ coaches that he was stalling for “commercial time.”

In the video, Kennedy can easily be heard saying “You called a full and then you wanted a 20. You didn’t have one. You called one in the third quarter. TV went to a 20, thought it was going to be a 20. So what I’m doing right now is I’m stalling, I’m stalling for commercial time.”

According to Golliver:

The confusion apparently resulted from D’Antoni asking for his second 20-second timeout of the second half early in the fourth quarter.  By NBA rules, each team is only allowed one 20-second timeout per half, though, and the Lakers had already used their 20-second timeout in the third quarter. As such, the Lakers were assessed a full timeout, but the television broadcast didn’t air the number of commercials befitting the longer break. Kennedy’s plan, then, was to stage the meeting with the coaches so that the broadcast could make up the extra ad time. Because the “stalling” wasn’t an official stoppage of play, Kennedy needed to make sure both D’Antoni and Popovich left their teams on the court and didn’t use the dead time strategizing in a sideline huddle.

I am sure Kennedy will get a stern talking to by the NBA. But not about “stalling for more commercial time” – he’ll probably get a bonus for that, but for not making sure his mic was off.

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