When this NBA season is over, the owners will meet and possibly decide on some rule changes. Hopefully, one of the first things they’ll do is remember who embarrasing these hacking DeAndre Jordan moments look like and make it so punishing to teams who do it that it’ll disappear.
I’m not feeling sorry for Jordan, or for Dwight Howard, or for Shaquille O’Neal at the time. The same thing happened to Wilt Chamberlain during his dominant days. But there’s a greater good in basketball, which is about balancing several factors, including entertainment value and thinking about the appearance of it all.
Throwing the criticisms away by simply saying that “He needs to learn how to hit free throws” is ignoring the problem. Basketball, an NBA basketball game that is, is designed to look and proceed in a certain way. Making it a game without any rhythm, in which one team focuses almost an entire squadron of big men and their fouls on sending an incompetent free throw shooter to the line. Great tactics, geniuses. Even if Gregg Popovich is doing it, it doesn’t make it right.
A team like the Houston Rockets could’ve been trying to actually play basketball, but they’ve been trying to twist and bend the rules so the game loses any rhythm and fluidity. In the end, they were punished for it. The Spurs didn’t exactly gain so much from sending Jordan to the line. Taking your players out of a certain rhythm on defense hurts their offense as well.
Mark Cuban is making noise on Twitter, but he loves to have opinions that seem unpopular just to get under some people’s skin. He’s a cool guy, but that doesn’t make him right all the time. Sending Howard and Jordan to the line while hugging them and begging the officials to notice makes watching an NBA playoff game into a boring night of baseball for too many minutes.
Silver has said a few times that he’s slightly afraid of making changes, at least to this rule. But too many games in this series have been ruined by this tactic being deployed. There should be more than just a foul and free throws to the “hacking” offenses. It shouldn’t be worth a team’s while. It should be upgraded to a technical foul, maybe even a flagrant. It has no place in basketball. Not in the NBA, not in the playoffs, not anywhere. Lets hope this is the last postseason this scourge plagues our screens and games.