In 'Claw to Claw' Andrew Lail and Bruce Barker tackle the big issues facing the NBA. This week they delve into the issue of the NBA's 'Respect the game' rules.
ANDREW: What can be said about the new NBA, respect the game rules? These new rules with the immediate technical fouls are so flawed that they should be rescinded immediately. The lifeblood of the game is emotion and these rules are emotion killers. When emotion is removed, the game suffers drastically.
OURDAY: I disagree. The only person that should be affected emotionally by these new rules is the player that draws the foul. It either makes them angrier than they already were or, in the case of an excessive celebration foul, reverses them from happy to angry. Even in those cases, there is still plenty of emotion from the player; he just isn't allowed to display it.
Read more to see the rest of the discussion!
ANDREW: That's exactly what I'm talking about. Emotion is what fuels the crowd. Emotion is what pushes the players to the next level. Emotion is what makes the game fun in the first place. If the players have to walk around the court like so many Mr. Spock's the whole game becomes boring. In fact, they can't even act like Spock! What would happen if a bad call is made and a player turned to the ref with one raised eyebrow and said, "Fascinating." I'll tell you what would happen. He'd get a technical for disrespecting the referee.
OURDAY: What happens after that whistle blows? If the "Vulcan" in question is playing for the home team, the crowd jumps to its feet as one and starts booing, name-calling, and suggesting the ref check his Blackberry because he's missing a lot of calls. If the player is a visitor, the crowd still jumps to its feet, but it's to cheer and commend the referee for his keen vision and insight. There's a good chance either way the player's coach is going to get pretty excited as well. I'd say those reactions are pretty "emotional," wouldn't you?
Besides, for decades now the league has been plagued with players and coaches that whine, yell, flop onto the court at the slightest contact, and display more overacting than a Mexican soap opera actress. Something had to be done to stop it.
ANDREW: I'll be the first to admit that there are whiners in the NBA. Our own beloved Jax is among these players. If you are always driving into the paint out of control, and throwing up something that is supposed to be a shot and always expecting a foul, don't. You have to have some sort of control, or the foul won't be called. Respect the referees there. Referees, you guys are at fault too. Superstars get special treatment on calls. You can't show me an NBA game where they do not. You guys do not call the games objectively, and you probably never will. Everyone is supposed to get a fair call. When the referees determine the outcome of games with ejections, you have removed game play from the teams on the court and given control to the referees. Players are afraid to celebrate, afraid to ask questions, and afraid to play the game like they have their entire lives.
OURDAY: Why is it exactly that the players have played the game this way their entire lives? Listen to any game in any schoolyard. You'll hear the kids doing their own play-by-play. "Kobe gets the ball... he's going to have to do something fast... time is running out... he fakes left... OH he cuts right and throws up a prayer... nothing but net! Lakers win!" My point is that kids watch pro basketball. These players are heroes and role models to them. When a pro baller pitches a tantrum it sets a bad example and teaches the kids that such behavior is part of the game. Again, it had to be stopped.
If anything, the rules are too lenient. Ever watch a pro baseball game? What happens when a manager comes tearing out of the dugout and screaming at the ump? He's outta there! If he spits at the ref, or kicks dirt at him, the manager (or player for that matter) can expect a tidy fine from the league the next day. At least in basketball the player gets a warning and isn't ejected unless he pushes the matter further. Yes, it affects the game sometimes, just like the loss of a key player or manager affects a baseball game. But game officials have been the doormats of sports for decades just because they're doing their jobs. The players have brought this on themselves.
ANDREW: Have you ever watched a college basketball game? How much emotion is on that court? The fans are raging lunatics (and I mean this in a positive way), with massive love for their team. The players are super high on emotion, and even go so far as to getting the fans involved in the emotion. The fist pump after the incredible "and 1" drive to the lane. They jump up and down after the go ahead shot. Emotion is rampant in college basketball.
OURDAY: The crowds in pro hoops are just as enthusiastic and the same thing would happen to a college player if he cussed and fussed over a perceived bad call that happens to the pros. The difference is, the college player knows this but the pro has been getting away with it for years. These things tend to balance out. Before they implemented celebration rules in football, a touchdown was cause for more choreography than a community theater production of Cats. Now, players still celebrate after a score, but it's more reserved. The same will happen with basketball. This is only the adjustment period.
ANDREW: But in the NBA a player gets called if he so much as claps his hands too hard! Look; there is high emotion in high school basketball. There is high emotion in middle school basketball. There is high emotion in a pickup game in the schoolyard. Where am I going with all of this? Basketball is a game that we all know and love. If you've played it, you have always played it with emotion. You learn to continue to play with emotion, and emotion is fueling your game. You get to the highest level of basketball that you can play at, and everything that you have always known to be BASKETBALL, no longer exists. Drain the emotion out of it. Go on the court and display only your athletic ability and your understanding of the technical aspects of the game. Yeah, sounds as entertaining as watching paint dry. Anyone else want to spend their hard earned money for a couple $25 seats, $10 parking, a $7 barbecue, an $8 beer, and gas money to watch paint dry? I don't. I want to see what I've grown to love. NBA action at its finest. Sprinkle in some emotion to see the players enjoying themselves and entertaining the home crowd, and you have a winning combination.
OURDAY: So, let me ask a question. When do you think you'll watch another pro basketball game?
ANDREW: The next time the Bobcats take the court. I'm a loyal fan and a homer all the way.
OURDAY: So the game that has gotten so bad that it's as entertaining as "watching paint dry" is still exciting enough that you're already excited about the next game. The new rules can't be all that bad then.
ANDREW: I love our team. I love this game. That doesn't mean I'm not going to be upset at the changes that have been made and it doesn't mean I'm going to sit quiet instead of trying to get things back the way they were.
Besides, this is all just another ploy by David Stern to get the players upset before the CBA negotiations resume. If the league can get the players screaming about the new rules, maybe they won't notice it when the owners slip in the 40% pay cuts they want.
OURDAY: Ah yes, the CBA negotiations and the upcoming lockout. That sounds like an argument for another day. What do you think?
ANDREW: What I think isn't as important as what everyone else thinks. How about it guys? What's your opinion on "respecting the game?" What would you like to see me and OurDay bare our claws over next time? It's your turn to weigh in. The floor is yours.