The NBA acknowledged on Thursday what every rational person could see Wednesday: Kobe Bryant fouled Ricky Rubio on his potential game-tying desperation three-pointer in the Wolves’ 120-117 loss to the Lakers.

Video review by the league office confirmed that Kobe Bryant fouled Rubio while he was in his shooting motion,” it said on the league website. “Rubio should have been awarded three free throws.”

That’s great, NBA ... except that such an admission, unless it is accompanied by three free throws, really means nothing.

Here’s a question: Is it better for a league to essentially apologize for messing up, or does it just rub salt in the wound because rarely, if ever, is anything done about the outcome after a game is completed no matter how egregious the error?

Hey, here’s an even better question: What if there was some kind of viable equalizer for a team that was affected by a blown call? Like, for instance, these options:


• In the case of the Wolves and Lakers, who don’t play again this season, it would be tough. But what if it had happened in the previous meeting Feb. 1 at Target Center? Would it be that crazy to consider replaying the end of the disputed game before another game in the same arena? Think about the crowd anticipation. Anyone with a ticket from EITHER GAME could be allowed in. Target Center would be packed for such a novelty ... and Rubio, unnerved by all the noise and distractions, probably would miss one of the three free throws and the game would be over. But still, it would be the kind of thing that makes sports fun.

• Maybe a better solution altogether for basketball: Give NBA coaches one challenge every game, much like NFL coaches get. If they challenge and are right, the call is overturned (but it is their one and only challenge no matter what). If the call is upheld, it’s a technical foul and the other team gets two free throws. Rick Adelman would happily have taken that gamble Wednesday. As it was, he was left with exasperation postgame and a hollow apology Thursday.

michael rand