Utah Jazz: Sloan long ago moved on from 1998

Published: Thursday, June 19 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

Even after reports late last week revealed at least two former referees had been questioned by law-enforcement officials specifically about Bavetta — Hue Hollins, and another unidentified one who told the New York Times he was asked essentially if Bavetta had a tendency to favor home teams — the veteran ref worked last Sunday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals between Boston and the Lakers.

The Celtics won that series Tuesday night, taking Game 6 in Boston.

As for Game 6 of the Utah-Chicago finals in '98, Bavetta and his crew — Hollins and Dan Crawford were the other refs, but Bavetta was in charge — were involved in at least three calls/non-calls that continue to haunt many Jazz fans now 10-plus years later.

The first, relived during the Game 6 replay shown by ESPN Classic on the 10th anniversary last Saturday, involved a second-quarter shot by Jazz backup point guard Howard Eisley.

Less than 10 minutes remained in the quarter, and the Jazz were up by four at the time. Time was running down on the 24-second shot clock as Antoine Carr's long pass from down low sailed over the hands of Shandon Anderson, but Eisley chased down the ball and hoisted a 3-pointer that fell.

Bavetta disallowed the basket, much to the dismay of the NBC broadcast crew calling the game nationally.

Play-by-play announcer Bob Costas' call at the time: "Are they calling a shot-clock violation? Let's see. Dick Bavetta says, 'yes,' and they wave it off, though it appeared to me as he (Eisley) had beaten it."

Costas, after watching a replay moments later: "See if the ball isn't out of his hand. One second ... it's on the way, and they missed the call."

Analyst and ex-Bulls coach Doug Collins: "It's a big break for the Chicago Bulls. ... That should have counted. That's a big turnaround."

Sloan could be seen muttering some words, and later during the game he told NBC sideline reporter Jim Gray, "That's horrible, but I don't want to get thrown out of the game."

· · · · ·

Fast-forward to the fourth quarter of Jazz-Bulls '98 Game 6, a game — it should be noted, in light of questions from investigators about Bavetta — that was played in Salt Lake City.

Utah is ahead 79-77 when Ron Harper of the Bulls hits a jumper with just under four minutes to go.

Costas' initial call: "He (Harper) beats the shot clock and cans a huge shot."

Though Bavetta himself did not appear responsible for the decision, his crew allowed the shot to stand.

After a break in the action, and with the benefit of replay, however, the NBC crew saw things differently, hindsight allowing for much-clearer focus.

Analyst Isiah Thomas: "You watch Harper as he takes this shot. Does he get it off in time? That's a tough call."

Costas: "They took a Howard Eisley three away, wrongly, in the first half. This one was even closer, but it appeared that Harper may have been a fraction of a second behind the shot clock."

More from Thomas: "I think that was a shot-clock violation."

But it counted anyway, helping to set up — after Jordan's steal from Malone — the most-debated call of the game.

Jordan's jumper with 5.2 seconds left gave the Bulls their ultimate margin of victory and a second-straight finals series win over the Jazz, 87-86.

Initial calls by the NBC crew suggested nothing about a shove, or push-off, on defender Bryon Russell by Jordan before the shot.

Bavetta, who was on top of the play, called no foul.

And, even after a replay, Collins said, "Bryon Russell slipped."

Thomas, though, saw things differently.

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