There may not be very many things that NBA fans of different teams can agree on, but one thing that has crystallized during the NBA restart in Orlando, especially in the playoffs, has been the general disdain for referee Scott Foster.
Actually, that goes back well before the advent of the bubble, but since this is the epicenter of the NBA at this point, Foster makes for an ideal bubble villain. And Celtics fans nationally are groaning over the fact that Foster will be on the floor as one of the referees for Friday’s Eastern Conference semifinal Game 7 against the Raptors.
Last week, Foster was on the floor for the Thunder-Rockets Game 7, which featured Chris Paul—a player Foster appears to have a personal beef with going back years. Foster made the unusual step in that game of whistling Paul for a delay of game—he was tying his shoe—that gave the Rockets a free throw. Paul also claimed that Foster reminded him before the game that he reffed the Game 7 in 2008, when Paul’s Hornets lost to the Spurs.
“That s*** don’t make no sense,” Paul said. “But I don’t know. That’s crazy. He just – I don’t know. We could’ve won the game, but that situation – the league knows. Yeah. They’re going to fine me. I said his name. Yeah. We already know the history.”
Scott Foster’s History With Celtics–& Raptors–Has Been Controversy-Free
It’s not that Foster has a long negative history against either the Celtics or the Raptors. In fact, when the Raptors have had games with Foster and crewmate Zach Zarba, they were 10-0 in the regular season and 2-1 in the playoffs. The Celtics under the same circumstances were 4-2 in the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs, according to Raptors beat writer Kevin Rashidi.
Point is, Foster has gained a reputation as the most hated referee in the NBA because of his quick trigger with technical fouls and his tendency to make the final minutes of important games more about the referees than the players on the floor.
Four years ago, the Los Angeles Times surveyed NBA players and coaches for their thoughts on the best and worst referees in the game. Foster was voted the worst by a longshot—he had 24 votes, and the second-worst on the list (Lauren Holtkamp) had 14.
As one anonymous player told the Times, “You can’t talk to him. He’s never wrong. I like refs where they say, ‘You know what, I made a mistake. I saw it at halftime. You were right.’ But Scott Foster thinks he never makes a mistake.”
And you’ll forgive Celtics fans for not exactly having the warm-and-fuzzies when it comes to referees these days. The NBA’s Last 2-Minute Report on the Game 6 loss to the Raptors revealed that those referees missed two calls, both against Boston. That included Kemba Walker’s drive to the rim with 3.5 seconds left in regulation, a play that saw Walker get hammered without getting a foul call.
If Walker got the foul call, the Celtics likely would have won.
Celtics’ Paul Pierce: ‘They Can’t Let Their Emotions Get the Best of Them’
Celtics great Paul Pierce had some advice for players heading into this Game 7: Stay calm and don’t argue. Celtics star Jayson Tatum should especially take note—he is only of only 10 players to have racked up two technical fouls in the playoffs so far.
“I don’t feel like Scott has the relationship among the superstars in the league,” Pierce said on ESPN. “It was hard for me to say something because I know Scott was gonna have a quick trigger with the technicals. If you’re gonna say something, you’ve gotta keep it short and keep it moving. If you sit there and elaborate on a call, you’re gonna get a technical and he’ll throw you out like we’ve seen. The players know this. They can’t let their emotions get the best of them, especially when Scott’s out there.”