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Updated May 18, 2012 - 3:56 pm

Bad refs are a natural part of Arizona sports

Phoenix teams and their fans are no strangers to poor officiating.

Many a time has a game, series or season turned on some questionable calls, which consistently seem to go against Arizona's teams.

Are we complaining too much when, in reality, our teams are just not better? Perhaps. But that doesn't change the frustration of what's gone down.

So, in no particular order, we present to you a rundown of some of the worst most questionable officiating ever seen.

May 12, 2007: Suns vs. Spurs, Game 3 of Western Conference Semifinals

The Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs split the first two games of matchup many thought was "the real NBA Finals," but things got shady when the series moved to Texas.

While many people will remember the Suns' Game 4 win -- and the subsequent suspensions after the hip check heard 'round the world, what gets lost in the travesty that was Game 3.

That night the Suns shot 27 free throws to the Spurs' 36, and while that may not have been unusual, one thing was:

One of the referees that night was Tim Donaghy, of fixing NBA games fame.

A collection of bad calls and no calls led to this being considered one of the worst officiated games you will ever see.

The Suns ended up losing the series, and possibly their best chance for a championship, in six games.

February 1, 2009: Cardinals vs. Steelers, Super Bowl XLIII

The Cardinals, in the Super Bowl? Yes, it happened.

We don't need to rehash what went down in Tampa Bay that night. Everyone knows the Cardinals got off to a slow start, took a late lead and then watched Ben Whatshisname lead a scoring drive for the win.

And really, losing the Super Bowl is bad enough, but when some highly-questionable calls go against you and directly contribute to the outcome? That's a little tough to handle.

Take, for instance, James Harrison's 100-yard interception and subsequent touchdown return. Yes, it was a great play, but what if he only ran 99-yards? The ref was not in position to see if his knee touched before the ball reached the goal line, and may have missed a key call.

Sadly, though, that wasn't the last of the controversy.

Take the game-winning touchdown pass, analyze it a bit more, add a touch of Cardinals homerism and what do you know, Santonio Holmes may not have got both feet in bounds. And, as we all know, that's kind of a necessity to rule a pass a completion.

And of course, who can forget the Kurt Warner fumble that may not really have been a fumble to end it? How many of us would like to?

Did the refs botch these calls? Perhaps, and while it would not be the first time an Arizona team got the short end of the stick with officiating (as this story goes to show), it is likely the most painful.

May 13, 15, 17...2012: Coyotes vs. Kings, Western Conference final

Shane Doan gets tackled
by Drew Doughty late
in Game 3. No call.

No, we didn't expect the Coyotes to be one series away from the Stanley Cup Final. And yes, the Kings may be the better team.

But really, do the refs have to be so blatantly bad?

Whether it's the consistent "embellishment" of calls, as Coyotes coach Dave Tippett calls it, or the absolute lack of consistency with which the games are being called, Phoenix certainly seems to be getting the, ahem, short end of the stick here.

And, sadly, the series isn't even over yet, so there's likely more to come. Oh goody.

March 26, 2005: Arizona vs. Illinois, Elite 8

History remembers this game as one of the greatest comebacks of all time. ASU fans remember this game as a glorious moment where the Wildcats choked.

Arizona fans remember this game as one where the refs failed to call a foul -- any foul -- as the lead was slipping away.

The Wildcats, up 15 with just over four minutes remaining, fell apart amidst a run of missed shots, turnovers and clutch hoops from the Illini.

But come on, refs, call a foul. You had plenty of chances, as there were even times when it looked like Illinois was trying to foul. Ugh.


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