How to Fix the Never Ending Fight Between NBA Players and Referees

Kevin Durant got back into the NBA officials debate Tuesday night by getting tossed from the Warriors-Knickerbockers game and then snide-bombing James Williams, the veteran official who tossed him. 
This is just one more brick in the wall that will be turned into a full-on force field when the officials and players union representatives gather during next month's All-Star Break in Los Angeles, and the rhetoric will fly.
The solutions, on the other hand, will not. Both sides feel justifiably aggrieved and know to both their souls and soles that the other is the enemy. Then again, based on how the players have behaved toward each other lately, the players think the players are the enemy, too, which is no way to go through an eight-figure contract.
People talk about the good old days when players didn't smart off so much, and when the officials weren't so thin-skinned, but the good old days had one feature the good new days don't.
Officials need to be fearless on the floor to provide the game with the kind of objective adjudication it deserves, but that doesn't happen without management support and with player disrespect. Players need a forum in which they can complain about a call without turning it into a declaration of war.
And both need to fear the result of failing those mandates. Thus, a solution.
For players who cross the line, a fine commensurate with the fines of old – something that caused pain. An entirely deserved ejection, therefore, would not cost $25,000 (which in Durant's case represents nine one-hundredths of one percent of his yearly salary) but three percent – in the Durant case, slightly less than $800,000. And if that isn't enough, move the percentage up to five, or even ten if you have to. Twenty-five grand is nothing; $2.6 million is a religious experience. Fines should hurt, and so should suspensions, which brings us to the back end of the solution.
If an official has tossed a player unjustifiably, he (or in the case of Lauren Holtkamp, she) gets what Courtney Kirkland got when he goaded Shaun Livingston into a head-butt – a week off without pay. Or two, if that doesn't solve the problem. Or no more games ever if it persists. Officials, after all, make between $150,000 and $550,000 a year according to two-year-old figures, so a veteran who works 75 or so regular season games a year makes about $7500 a game. Take those game checks away, or a percentage of their annual salary, and you'd get more attentive listening skills. 
And the person to decide these cases is obvious – former official and reformed exploding teapot Joey Crawford, who knows more about the subject of temper and its regulation than anyone else on either side. Players like him, coaches like him, officials like him, and he is that fearless adjudicator whose agenda is not self-preservation.
But all this assumes commissioner Adam Silver thinks all this unchained internecine crankiness is a problem. A summit may make everyone feel okay for a moment or two, but it will revert to the current unpleasantness soon enough because everyone involved agrees that everybody else is wrong.
Over to you, Mark Cuban.

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