When analytics from Northern America as well as the best bloggers from all over the world, including Ukraine, Russia, Luxembourg and the Galápagos Islands and many other countries, started analysing the factors which affected the victory of the hosts in the third match of the 2021 NBA Finals, Milwaukee – Phoenix 120: 100 (the score in the series 1/2), they noticed something. An exciting history of the problematic relationship between the Suns’ leader, Chris Paul and one of the most experienced referees of the Association, Scott Foster, couldn’t escape their eyes. The NBA, as you know, has statistics that are related to basketball directly (that is, points, assists and the like) and indirectly (that is who, when and how). It turns out that this is the twelfth time in a row when Chris Paul and his team lose a match which is refereed by number 48 of the National Basketball Referees Association! So let’s try to find patterns and coincidences in the problematic relationship of the people involved since “the stats do not lie”.

The relationship between these two people, who have been pretty much defining the NBA for about two decades (Paul is playing his 17th season, and Foster, who is a referee for the 27th season ) cannot be called a calm and a smooth one. On the contrary, as soon as these two surnames are placed next to each other, it reminds everyone of the huge scandal, which happened last year after the 7th playoff match between Houston and Oklahoma with the score of 104:102. Then, it was none other but Chris Paul who accused Foster, almost directly, of refereeing against Paul’s team. 

You will recall that the point guard, who at that time was playing for Oklahoma, spoke out angrily about the outcome of the match. It was the 1/4 Finals of the 2020 Western Conference playoffs, with Chris ‘ previous club, Houston. An instructive event occurred during the game, which became the reason for the accusations. In the last minutes of the second quarter, the referee called Paul for a delay, even though the staff was mopping the floor already, and Paul himself was tying his shoelaces. According to the point guard, Scott approached him and said,

“Chris, you have to do that. I let them clean the floor. Yeah. So I started putting my shoes back on, and he still calls the game late. It doesn’t make sense. He just … I don’t know. We win the game. But the situation … the league knows. Yeah, they’re going to punish me. I said his name, we already know history.” 

Scott Foster

Instead of asking the referee and waiting for permission, the player had obviously broken the rules, and instead of admitting it, he started attacking the referee, who gave him a justified punishment. And whatever the punishment in the second quarter, the match consists of 48, not 24 minutes! And the score was 59:61, and lagging behind by two points can be won back even if the refereeing isn’t very favourable. But what am I talking about?

And in the 2021 playoffs, the guard player, now wearing the Phoenix shirt, already managed to have a row with the referee. During the press conference after the Lakers elimination in the third match of the series of the first playoff round (95:109, 1/2), that is in the first quarter of the Western Finals (in 2020 there also was a first-round match!) and in the first away match of Phoenix (recently there also was the first away match after the starting 2:0 in the series), Chris Paul repeatedly said “11 games in a row”, talking about the series of losses in the playoff games, which Scott Foster officiated. 

So who the referee Foster really is? And what can we (but should we?) accuse him of? 

  1. Scott Foster is refereeing the decisive series of the season for the 14th time in his career.

In total, by the beginning of the 2021 playoffs, Scott had officiated 20 Final games throughout his career. Apart from him, Phoenix vs Milwaukee games were officiated by Tony Brothers (10th playoff in his career), James Capers (10th), Mark Davis (10th), Kane Fitzgerald (3rd), Pat Fraher (2nd), John Goble (5th), David Guthrie (4th), Courtney Kirkland (1st), Eric Lewis (3rd), Josh Teaven (2nd), James Williams (1st), Sean Wright (1st), Zach Zarba (8th).

Conclusion #1: It’s not just Foster, but also 14 other referees who had influenced, influence and will continue to influence the outcome of the games in the Final. So the appointment of the referee isn’t made based on personal sympathy or antipathy of the club, which is commendable. 

  1. Scott Foster, born on the 8th of April 1967, worked not only for the NBA but also refereed the games of the Chinese Championship. 
  2. According to the NBRA, during his 26-year career in the NBA, the 54-year-old referee has officiated more than 1,500 games in the regular season; and in addition, about 200 games in the playoffs, as well as 20 matches in the NBA Finals.

Conclusion #2&3: He is a highly experienced referee who is trusted not only by the NBA.

  1. In 2018, when sports betting was legalised in the USA, the fans signed a petition to remove Scott Foster from the NBA referees. 

The reason for this petition for his disqualification was Foster’s alleged ties with Tim Donaghy. He was disgracefully removed from the position of NBA referee and sentenced to 15 months in prison in the late 2000s. It happened after the gambling scandal when he allegedly contributed to the results of the NBA games after placing a bet.

The tension occurred after discovering that between October 2006 and April 2007 (when he admitted to placing bets and passing the game information to the players), Donaghy made 134 calls to the referee Scott Foster. And that’s even more than 126 calls Donaghy made to his bookmaker. Most of the phone calls lasted less than 2 minutes and happened before or after the games, which Donaghy refereed and bet on.

The former referee didn’t call anyone else more than he called Foster. That’s excluding the 150 phone calls to Thomas Martino, who was the intermediary between the disgraced judge and a bookmaker named James Battista. Martino was the one to whom Donaghy gave his picks. At around this time, Donaghy didn’t call any other referee more than 13 times. Yet the petition on Change.org collected only 325 signatures, and the referee remained in his place. 

Conclusion #4: There is a formal cause not to trust Foster, but when it comes to being biased against a specific player or team or to promoting a particular game outcome – it’s all speculation. 

  1. Each series ends sooner or later. With 100% confidence, we can say that Paul will also win the “confrontation” with Foster. Maybe even in game number 13.

In any case, the fact that Scott Foster was inconvenient for the teams, in which Chris Paul played (11 loses) was refuted on the 22nd of June this year. When the Clippers lost to Phoenix in Los Angeles with a slight difference of one score – 103:104, the referees (including the one we’re talking about), in my opinion, overlooked a blatant foul. In the last offence, Ayton clearly used his hands and his body too much to help himself in the fight for position against Ivica Zubac.

And Chris Paul wasn’t playing during that game, maybe it was lucky? Maybe in the case of the Foster appointment, Paul shouldn’t be allowed to play? Or perhaps it is better to play without paying attention to who the referee is?!

Conclusion #5: All issues are made up by Chris Paul, and there is no need to talk or write about bias because the referee is always right, even if he doesn’t always judge the game the way you want him to.