My drive home from work last night was graced by listening to "J.T. the Brain" on Sporting News Radio ranting on and on about how the NBA instructing its refs to pay attention to Yao Ming damaged the integrity of the game and was a much bigger deal than anyone was giving it credit for. Shockingly enough, a sports talk host was completely overstating an issue.
What likely happened is this: Mark Cuban noticed that Yao was setting illegal screens and sent a video of said violations to the NBA. The NBA reviewed the tape and said "Gee, we think he's right. Let's tell our refs to watch this more closely." As a favor, one of the refs called Van Gundy to warn him that Yao has to set legal screens from now on. Van Gundy, enraged by this suggestion, goes to the media and bitched about Mark Cuban. In so doing, he's doing what most people do when they get caught with their pants down: deflect the issue from themselves and instead attack the messenger. The bottom line is that Cuban was right and the NBA acted appropriately by asking its refs to enforce the rules. Van Gundy has the same right to petition for relief if he can produce a video of the Mavs breaking the rules in a consistent way.
The episode reminds me of the lead-up to the '97 Sugar Bowl, when Steve Spurrier was complaining about late hits by Florida State defenders against Danny Wuerrfel, complete with a video tape contrasting the uncalled hits against Wuerrfel with penalized hits in SEC games. While the media went off on Spurrier for "whining," his substantive point was absolutely correct and it led the refs in the Sugar Bowl to actually enforce the rules as written. G-d forf***ingbid!