The 2023-24 NBA season is just a couple of days old, but the officials have already had to apologize for a critical mistake. League officials issued an apology for a missed call on Jalen Brunson in the New York Knicks' 108-104 loss on Wednesday night.
In the fourth quarter, with the Knicks leading 88-86, Brunson went up for a three-point shot and tumbled to the floor after coming down awkwardly on Jayson Tatum's foot. He promptly received a technical foul for what the referees deemed to be flopping.
Upon review, it was easy to see that Brunson did not flop at all and that landing on Tatum caused him to fall backward. On Thursday, the official NBA referees account on X acknowledged the mistake and said the flopping foul should not have been called.
We missed the foot to foot contact which should have resulted in a personal foul and reviewed for flagrant. Had no foot to foot contact existed, this type of secondary and theatrical movement by Brunson would meet the criteria for a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul for… https://t.co/aPZJiARfiS— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) October 26, 2023
The call wound up swinging the game in the Celtics' favor late in the fourth quarter. Brunson should have been awarded three free throws and the chance to give the Knicks a five-point lead. Instead, Tatum hit the technical free throw and one of his two following free throws to tie the game.
After that, Boston and New York went back and forth until Kristaps Porzingis knocked down a three-point shot with 1:29 left, and the Celtics held on from there. It's easy to wonder whether the Knicks might have pulled away if the correct call had been made on Brunson in the first place.