NBA’s new technical policy looks to put end to player whining
The NBA will launch a crackdown on the excessive complaining during games by players and coaches this season by calling more technical fouls. The guidelines for calling a technical foul, which have been broadened since last season, are as follows:
• Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court
• Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled
• Running directly at an official to complain about a call
• Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone
No wonder Rasheed Wallace retired.
Players were informed of the new rules during seminars and have gotten firsthand tastes of the stricter enforcement during the preseason. However, the big question is whether this is just more lip service to cleaning up excessive complaining and abuse of officials or whether the NBA will finally institute a policy that sticks.
Remember that the NBA tried a similar measure before the 2006-07 season in an effort to curb complaining, but that did not last long.
However, Stu Jackson, the NBA executive vice president of basketball operations, has insisted that this go-around will be different, and the league seems to be taking steps towards ensuring that is the case.
The NBA has announced that it has doubled the amount of fines for technical fouls. The first five technicals a player or coach receives in a single season will result in a $2,000 fine, technicals 6-10 are $3,000 each, and technicals 11-15 are $4,000 each. Once a player or coach reaches 16, he will receive a one-game suspension and then again for every two technicals. A $5,000 fine will also accompany each technical.
This expanded definition of the rule and increased emphasis in enforcing said rule has been a long time coming for many who are fed up with constant complaints about every call. Last season, Dwight Howard and Wallace led the NBA with 17 technical fouls apiece. They were followed by Kendrick Perkins (16), Kobe Bryant (14), and the trio of Stephen Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, and Amar’e Stoudemire (13). In all last year, 240 different players received at least one technical foul during the 2009-10 regular season.
The NBA has made attempts to clean up the game through the years, some successful and some not. While it successfully implemented a dress code for players in an attempt to remove the league’s “thug” label, it has had less success enforcing on-court rules. How many times has the NBA said it planned to call palming and traveling more frequently only to see that emphasis go by the wayside once December rolled around?
This rule will face many difficult tests in the coming months. How will players react if some officials stick to the strict letter of the law while others allow more leeway? What will happen if, in a close game in the playoffs, a player commits one of these “overt” reactions due to the conditioned nature of NBA players? Will the referees allow it to slide so as to not affect the outcome of a closely contested and meaningful game? Or will they call it and risk public backlash due to a perception of the officials playing too big a role in the outcome of games?
These and more questions will inevitably present themselves over the course of the season, and only time will tell if the NBA can strike a balance. Clearly the behavior of players has gotten worse over the years, with players protesting seemingly every play, and the NBA deemed it necessary to address the permissive nature that had been fostered. But whether this was the correct step in curbing such behaviors remains to be seen.
But one thing is almost a certainty: When Joey Crawford officiates his first Spurs game of the season, he will be watching Tim Duncan very closely.
By: Eric Lorenz
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