Does Bill Kennedy Have a Problem With the Celtics?
You'll likely remember Kennedy from his run-in with Celtics coach Doc Rivers late last season, an ejection and staring match which resulted in Kennedy and Rivers both being fined by the NBA.
The world's most prominent Celtics fan, ESPN.com scribe Bill Simmons, took the opportunity of Friday's Sheed-jection to make some jokes about Tim Donaghy betting on the Sixers. While Rivers himself blamed Wallace and teammate Ray Allen talked about the need to keep Sheed's anger in check, Simmons essentially uses the one-point loss by the favored Celtics to insist Donaghy's claims about referee bias are true.
Are they, in this case? Does Kennedy have it in for the Celtics?
For reference, after Kennedy gave Wallace his second tech, Simmons tweeted that "Donaghy has Philly tonight" and told readers to Google "Bill Kennedy" and "Celtics." He finished the discussion by writing "Note to the NBA: Donaghy went 80 percent because of situations like the one you gave us in Boston. The truth hurts." Donaghy has claimed he won 70-80 percent of his NBA bets while refereeing based on inside information on player injuries and a deep knowledge base of player/coach relationships with various refs. In the disgraced ref's most recent book push, he has made an extra effort to push the ref bias storyline, the veracity of which has been obliterated by Simmons's ESPN colleagues Henry Abbott and Kevin Arnovitz.
Since technical fouls were the culprit in this case, let's look at whether games officiated by Kennedy feature more Celtic techs than the usual Boston match. Friday's game was Kennedy's first against the Celtics this season, but the ref worked six Boston games (including two in the playoffs) last year.
In those seven games, Boston players have been called for four techs, for a rate of 0.57 techs per game. In the other 100 Celtics games since the start of 2008-09, Boston players have been called for 63 techs -- or 0.63 techs per game. In other words, Celtics are marginally less likely to draw a technical in a game worked by Bill Kennedy than in ones without him. (No one compiles coach technical foul stats, so the two techs on Rivers from last season aren't included in any of this.)
The Celtics certainly have a tech problem ... but it's name is not Bill Kennedy.
Furthermore, after the controversial Rivers ejection last March, Kennedy worked three more 2008-09 Celtics game, including two in the postseason (one against Chicago, one against Orlando). Boston earned a total of one technical in those three games -- it came against Ray Allen in an April 14 blowout loss to Cleveland in which Allen elbowed Anderson Varejao in the groin, leading to a double tech and an Allen suspension. One of Kennedy's postseason Celtics games, Game 4 of the Chicago series, led to some ridiculous posturing by the Boston media, who tried to paint Kennedy with the bias brush ... even though the teams' foul counts were close to even (31-28 C's) and the only tech in the game was called on Chicago center Brad Miller. No one has even claimed to have offered any shred of proof Kennedy hurt the Celtics in that game ... yet it has become a part of the Kennedy-Boston canon.
Bill Kennedy didn't screw Boston Friday. Rasheed Wallace did. Obviously, Simmons's cottage industry in Donaghy jokes is thriving, but in this case it really just obfuscates reality and misinforms fans.