NBA Blows The Whistle On Technical Fouls
Apparently, it isn’t enough the NFL players’ union cannot see eye-to-eye with the franchise owners, a spat that will very likely lead to a lockout next season. Now, the NBA has a problem of its own. While there is nothing so serious it should lead to a lockout (too soon), the league has an immediate problem of players’ discontent concerning a new policy regarding technical fouls.
Basketball lovers probably remember a few years ago, during the ’06-’07 season, when the league began a zero-tolerance policy. Any arguing, any dispute over a call, and the whistle gets blown. That didn’t last too long, but the policy has reared its head once more.
According to league officials, an audience survey conducted found fans have no desire to see this type of emotion on the court.
Obviously, nobody asked these guys.
The Lakers have already run into some problems with the new technical foul rule, and it’s only the preseason. Lamar Odom was whistled earlier this week for holding his hands up in the air after he was called for a foul. He hadn’t actually said anything to the ref. On top of all this, the fine for each technical foul has increased. The first five technical fouls will now cost each player $2,000 apiece. For techs in the 5-10 range, the cost is $3,000 per call and fouls 11-15 are $4,000. If a player gets 16 technical fouls and up, he is fined $5,000 and gets suspended one game for every two technicals.
Odom would rather keep his ends than complain about calls, and he made this clear to ESPN.
“You have to zip it. If they call you for a tech, it’s $2,000. That’s a lot of money in America or anywhere. I don’t want to give away $2,000 for going, ‘Damn, I thought I had the ball!’ or showing emotion. I want to keep my money, point blank.”
Kobe Bryant himself has averaged about 12 techs a year for the past three seasons, so this may even affect the way he plays the game. However, Phil Jackson does not see the new policy as such a bad idea.
“Guys will learn. The one thing about it is, guys will learn very quickly if they get fined or they get ejected. Just call it, guys will stop doing it. It may take a week or so, but guys learn real quickly in this game.”
Meanwhile, Bryant kept his comments on the changes brief. When asked about the rules he replied, “I thought it was like that already.”
What’s really sickening about these types of things is the attempt to stifle what is a natural reaction. Pro athletes are naturally competitive and passionate about the game they love, and they are going to react to both the good and bad (just like everyone else). To deny them this is completely unacceptable. Furthermore, the policy sends a message that the referees cannot be wrong. In this age of instant-replay, slow motion, and multiple camera angles, we all know this is not the case. Many calls are reviewed (and some overturned) simply because of the fervor with which players argue the call. Zero-tolerance policies mean more blown calls and angry fans, which will ultimately be a detriment to the game.
The players’ association is threatening legal action to change the policy, so chances are, it’ll be long gone before we have to suffer through 48 minutes of oversized zombies running up and down the court.
Odom said it best.
“It’s kind of crazy because that’s what people love to see. You watch the commercials and the NBA has dunking, [players making] faces and ‘Where Amazing Happens.’ Now it’s like ‘Where Normal Happens.’ There’s nothing amazing about not showing emotion.”