Every once in a while, about a season or two, David Stern comes up with a decision regarding player behavior off the court, and manages to generate the feeling he’s out to get the NBA’s biggest stars, like LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
What is it this time? Cutting down on the pregame rituals, something a lot of fans love to see. Whether it’s James’ famous chalk toss, or Dwyane Wade greeting fans on all four sides of the arena, doing pull-ups on the rim and having a series of handshake routines and even Kevin Durant, on the non-hated team of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who loves shaking hands, hugging and what not with opposing players and teammates before the game.
How will this work? There’s a 90-second countdown, it is placed on the clock. At 30 seconds, there’s a warning horn and alert by the refs. At the end, teams need to be ready to tip off or face a delay-of-game warning. Two delay-of-game warnings would result in a technical foul.
The players were actually warned about the matter during preseason meeting with the referees. The habits of long and elaborate ceremonies to get going before the game will be a part of NBA history, like NBA players dressing casual before games. The NBA didn’t go and reduce the time of TV timeouts, player introductions or extended halftimes during the NBA playoffs. It’s going at something that both the players and the fans enjoy.
What is unusual is that the league used to help promote and embrace some pregame antics by players, knowing that it’s popular with NBA fans. The Chicago Bulls have their starters sign autographs before games begin, which will certainly now become a thing of the past. Who gets hurt here? Probably the young fans. The players will adapt to taking a little less time when they touch each other before games.
And how has the league responded? You guessed it, negatively, some more than others. Kevin Durant: I personally don’t like it. Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don’t make no sense.
Dwyane Wade: I’ll have to take something away for sure. I’m always going to make sure I show love to the fans. There’s so many rules, I can’t keep up. There’s no reason to make a big stink. It’s their league, it’s their rules.
LeBron James said he won’t change his ritual. He’ll adapt, and figure out a way to push it in. If you take away flopping and pregame ceremonies, what is there left for these players to enjoy?