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Who is Bill Kennedy? Notorious Ref of the Thunder vs Blazers NBA Clash

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NBA Referee Crew Chief Bill Kennedy grabbed the headlines with his controversial decision during the Portland Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder clash on Tuesday night that turned out to be complete chaos in the final moments. 

Who is Bill Kennedy?

Bill Kennedy is an alumnus of Arizona State University and started his officiating career in basketball at a young age. He started in the Continental Basketball Association. The CBA was a minor league basketball organization in the Eastern US that became defunct in 2009. Kennedy has officiated five NBA Finals games. That is the highest honor in the NBA for a ref.

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What happened?

The Thunder had called a timeout and there was a possibility that they could have bagged the game-tying 3-pointer. However, they opted for a quick two. Jalen Williams hit a nine-foot jumper to cut the deficit to one with 25.1 seconds left.

With the limited time, the Thunder didn’t technically have to foul and they could have played out the possession, got the ball back, called timeout, and tried to draw up one last play.

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They tried to force a turnover, and they were successful. They trapped Malcolm Brogdon. He and head coach Chauncey Billups tried to call a timeout. However, the refs didn’t stop the game and he was called for a double-dribble with 15.6 seconds remaining.

Chauncey Billups was enraged with the proceedings and Blazers were required to play defense to preserve the win. He lashed out at the official and got called for a technical foul. Eventually, he was whistled for a second technical foul and ejected.

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This gave the Thunder a chance to reduce the deficit to one point. They got two free throws and possession on what the Blazers believed should have been a timeout. Blazers eventually lost 109-111.

Bill Kennedy explains his actions

Bill Kennedy clarified the series of events post-game. He explained why Chauncey Billups received both his first and second technical fouls with 15.1 seconds remaining. He said (via Blazers Edge):

The first technical foul was issued due to contact while Chauncey was trying to express himself to the official. He makes contact with the official two times, and the result is a technical foul. The second technical foul was assessed due to the fact that Chauncey aggressively now tries to follow and pursue the official after the first technical foul was assessed. So that covers basically those two technical fouls.

He was also asked why Chauncey was not granted a timeout, to which he replied:

“The referee in the slot position was refereeing the double team that was right in front of him, which makes it difficult for number one to hear and number two to see a coach request a timeout behind him. He is taught to referee the play until completion, which a double dribble happens, and he correctly calls the double dribble and then pursuant (to that) the technical fouls come forward.”

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Bishal Roy
Bishal Roy
Bishal has been working with several renowned publications and has generated sports content for 3+ years. He expresses insightful opinions and analysis having the expertise in writing sports news articles. He has been mainly covering US sports such as NFL, NBA, MLB and more for the website. He also writes for SportsIndiaShow and MMA India. When not writing, he will binge-watch web series.
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