Does Rudy Gobert Calling Out Refs Help or Hurt Timberwolves?

Photo: Steve Dykes - Associated Press

On Wednesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the Phoenix Suns on the road, 107-100, snapping a 4-game winning streak and keeping them in 7th place in the Western Conference. After the contest, Rudy Gobert went absolutely nuclear on the referees, not so subtly accusing them of favoring more established players and teams, instead calling games fairly.

Rudy Gobert goes off on NBA referees

“We understand that we’re not the biggest of the markets … I think you want to see (Kevin Durant) in the playoffs, Steph (Curry) in the playoffs, you want to see LeBron (James) in the playoffs. Timberwolves are not there yet. We got to keep putting our head down, keep playing through that and it’s frustrating for sure, especially for me.”

“It’s not fair. It’s really not fair. Every night. I have been in this league for 10 years and I try to always give the benefit of the doubt, but it is hard for me to think that they are not trying to help (the Suns) win tonight.”

“It is hard for me to think that they didn’t try to have the Warriors win the other night or the Sacramento Kings the other night. It is just so obvious as a basketball player. I have been in this league for so long, and it is disrespectful.”

“As a basketball player that’s been in this league for so long, it’s disrespectful, and it sucks, to be honest. We work so hard to be in a position to compete with the best, and we just get manipulated into those situations where it just impacts the game for the other team too much. They know how to do it. They do it a lot of different ways.”

Rudy Gobert after loss vs Suns (via The Athletic)

How bad were the calls? Well, Deven Booker had more free throw attempts (15) on the night than the Timberwolves had as a team (12). In total, the Suns more than doubled the Wolves free throw attempts (27).

Referee whistles really went into overdrive in the second half, when every Suns drive ended in a foul and the Wolves were no longer allowed to set screens without them being whistled as illegal. It was impossible to watch and not wonder what in the hell was happening.

Will rant help or hurt Wolves?

Gobert’s rant goes far beyond the subtle type shots we hear on a regular basis, from players and coaches in all sports. There’s no doubt Rudy will see a hefty fine, in the coming days, but that doesn’t mean his criticism won’t have a positive affect on the floor.

Was it coincidence that Gobert mentioned LeBron James, when “The King” is coming to town on Friday for another huge game with playoff/play-in ramifications? I doubt it. Badgering refs after they have a bad game is a proven way to get better calls.

In fact, postgame complaints about referees may have worked against the Wolves on Wednesday vs the Suns. Just last week, Phoenix coach Monte Williams took to the postgame podium and complained about the Lakers having 46 free throw attempts vs the Suns 20. He was fined $20,000 but that’s an easy payment if it meant better treatment this week vs Minnesota and others.

I love that Rudy Gobert went so hard at NBA refs last night. And even if it doesn’t help on Friday vs LeBron and the Lakers, there’s no chance their bias can get any worse… right?

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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