"That was the poorest officiated game I've ever played in," Elvin Hayes said after the Bullets were beaten by Seattle yesterday at Capital Centre.
The Big E - as in Exasperated - pointed his long finger specifically at referee Earl Strom. Then he charged Seattle forward Paul Silas with overly rough play.
"Everybody knows Earl always favors the team on the road," Hayes said. "But that was a poor performance for a championship game. If this game was analyzed, you'd see it was won from the foul line by the officials."
And yet, when the final statistics are perused, they show the Bullets went to the free throw line 29 times, compared to Seattle's 28
But Hayes persisted. "I'm sure they (the Sonics) were over there shouting when they heard Earl was going to be the official. A game like this I'd rather see Richie (Powers) or (Jake) O'Donnell. Anybody but Earl."
Then he focused his attack on Silas the veteran Seattle forward who held Hayes to five points in the last quarter.
"Silas went out there like a hactcher man," Hayes said." The whole series he's been hacking and shoving and pushing and getting away with it. Then we go down and we play good hard defense and they call us for everything.
"One play he (Strom) called a foul on me and I was 10 feet from the man. Earl is always like that.He's got this act of his."
Strom was asked to respond the Hayes' charges, and politely refused. "I don't want to hear any of that," he said in the officials' locker room, putting both hands over his ears.
Silas was more responsive.
"Now how am I going to beat up on a man 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds," he said, smiling. "Too many fingers are pointing at Elvin. There's too much pressure being put on him because he's the bulk of their offence. Then he lashes out. That's readily understandable.
"Elvin can say what he wants to say, but we're up 2-1, and that's all I care about. The referees are going to all whatever they see, as far as I'm concerned.Don't blame it on them."
"Ah, Elvin's always whining about the calls," added Sonic forward John Johnson. "That's just his opinion. If he had won, he would have said it was the best officiated game he'd ever played in. That's basketball.
"Now, I realize Elvin is a little despondent. But we outplayed them, whether he wants to admit it or not."
Hayes was asked about his nonproductive fourth quarter, which did not please him.
"Our offense is a pattern offense," he said."Every play is not designed for me. I hope we can emphasize this to you all. I can go a whole game without a hot. Some people just can't seem to understand that."
Would he have wanted to make the last shot?
"I felt we got a good shot out if it," Hayes replied. "I'll take that shot 15 times. I'd rather for him (Dandridge) to have that kind of shot because I know he can put it in the hole."
But Dandridge didn't, and now the Bullets are in the deepest hole of all, down 2-1 and heading west for two games in Seattle. "They can cry all they want but it won't do 'ern any good," said Sonic guard Fred Brown. "They just better start playing some ball."