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Answer Guy: Who Has The Power to Erase a Triple-Double?

2/10/2009
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In the battle of Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James (the next landmark NBA case) there never seems to be a definitive answer. A week ago, Kobe put up 61 points at Madison Square Garden. Two days later, LeBron put up a 52-point triple-double. Or so he thought. On Friday, the NBA revoked LeBron's triple-double by crediting one of his boards to Ben Wallace. Here at The Mag we had to literally "Stop the presses!" on a column so that the change would be reflected in the issue. But the question still remains: who made the call? We dialed up the NBA.

The Mag: Who reported the change, was it Ben Wallace making sure he was getting credit for his one and only rebound?
Tim Frank, NBA spokesman: We have people working in the NBA Entertainment department who watch every single game, and in the course of their review of several different things, if they notice that a statistic was incorrectly, or possibly incorrectly, given to the wrong person, they will inform our Basketball Operations department. Then our basketball operations department will go review those stats.

So if you have people reviewing every single play of every single player, of every single game, then you had somebody double check Kobe's 61 points?
Yes. We don't have somebody who sits down with a computer and double checks every aspect of every play per se, but we do have a secondary unit who reviews almost all plays. And whatever box score that's filed at the end of the game is the final, official score, unless its been noted and confirmed as a mistake.

But who raised the red flag on that last rebound?
There were so many people watching that game—even just in our office—that I'm not sure exactly who pinpointed it. Mike Breen was calling the game and even he said, "Wallace rebound." It would have stood out to a lot of people besides whoever was reviewing the play-by-play. And that game made its way onto the internet.


In the NHL, the rules are a bit different, but in a game of speed and inches, similar reviews take place.

The Mag: We sometimes see players just skate up to officials and blow the whistle on themselves. What gives?
Benny Ercolani, Head Statistics and Information office, NHL: You will see a lot of changes made on the ice when players will go up and say, "I didn't touch that puck." We rely on the scorers in the building to do all the scoring, and we won't look back at the box score unless a team brings it to our attention. It's even written in the rule book that once the official score is written in the book, that's it. However, we allow teams to ask for a review the next day or the day after.


And a stat-driven sport like Major League Baseball?

The Mag: With a 162-game season, it must be impossible to double-check each stat.
Mike Teevan, media relations, MLB: The official scorer will double check his box scores, then submit them to [the Elias Sports Bureau], who will go back and review all games pay-by-play to again check box scores. If a team has a problem, they contact our office and we review it.

As far as the NFL, we're still waiting on an answer.

Either way, at least as far as other leagues are concerned, perhaps LeBron's best bet would have been to do like the NHL, and make sure Ben Wallace made a run by the official scorer to vouch for him. He might still have that triple-double.

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