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Would changing NBA foul rules simply reward incompetence?


So we’ve got Rockets-Clippers tonight and that probably means more intentional fouling away from the ball that should render parts of the game unwatchable and which will probably lead to another Houston loss because it just doesn’t seem to work.

But should it be somehow outlawed is the question that’s circulating now and it’s a hard one to answer, actually.

My initial reaction would be there’s no need to change anything, there seems to no epidemic of flow-ruining foul-filled games; sure, the tactic gets more attention now because it’s happening in the playoffs right now but it doesn’t happen with any regularity during the season. The odd time in the second half of some games it might happen during the season but it’s not repeated every night and it doesn’t have the platform it does at this point of the year.

It absolutely dulls the game, of that there can be no question, but I’ve been reading stories all week that suggest for as much as some fans loathe it, there has been no discernible drop-off in in-game ratings once the fouls start piling up. That’s a bit surprising given the squawking about it but it seem to be a provable fact.

So, why change? To “reward” the very few players who can’t perform one of the rudimentary tasks of the game at even an average rate? To give them and their teams a break and take away a legitimate strategic move by an opponent?

I’m not sure that’s right, is it? Shouldn’t the players and teams that can’t do something suffer for it? Wouldn’t outlawing it somehow suggest it’s okay to be bad at something and be rewarded for it?

That doesn’t wash, in my opinion.

Tweak the rule to change how often or when fouls away from the ball are “legal” might be something to consider but it’s still rewarding failure in some way.

Besides, and all I have is anecdotal evidence from these Clippers-Rocekts games and a couple of Spurs-Clips moments, the intentional fouling doesn’t seem to work. Quite aside from the shocking mental meltdown by Houston the other day, the fouling seemed to deaden the game to a point where the Rockets couldn’t play like the Rockets and the tactic failed.

All of this, of course, is quite aside from the underlying fact that some of the better players in the game simply cannot shoot free throws at anywhere near a respectable rate.

That’s simply a flaw of skills and – trust me on this – they work at it and can’t quite get it. Some eventually do, or at least become more respectable at it, but many don’t and that’s just something fans, teammates and coaches have to live with.

And as long as guys like DeAndre Jordan or Dwight Howard or Josh Smith or Andre Drummond or any of the others are doing enough other things well to prove their worth to their teams, coaches are going to play them, as they should.

Sure, professional basketball players like them should be able to make free throws at a higher rate and I imagine it bugs the hell out of them to be continually embarrassed in front of full arenas and huge television audiences.

But here’s a note to all the people who are so silly as to suggest that even they could shoot foul shots better than NBA players because it’s so easy. Do this:

Go to your local court, run a series of, say, five full court sprints that include bumping into walls at the end of each. Do that and then stand there and shoot two fouls shots within 10 seconds, repeat that process six or seven times as you get more exhausted and then tell me – honesty – what you shot.

Yesterday would have been his birthday but every day should probably include some Marley, right?

Another aside to the Cavs-Bulls finish the other day.

There have been suggestions the refs, at least out of the corner of their eyes, may have seen Blatt calling for a timeout – the guy was two steps on to the court, for goodness sakes – and quickly averted their eyes because they knew both teams were out of timeouts and understood what the repercussions would be.

I don’t have a problem with that, at all. I think it’s part of being an NBA ref, using judgement and common sense all time.

Trust me, every ref knows late in games how many timeouts are left and also know every quarter how many fouls each team has accumulated.

And you know what? It’s why a few of them have voiced major displeasure with the Air Canada Centre.

On the entirely out-of-date and antiquated scoreboard in the arena, it’s difficult to quickly look up and see team fouls and the auxiliary scoreboards are woefully inadequate. Refs hate that they have to look over at the scorer’s table –and even so slightly slow down the game – to find out if there are four or five fouls on a team.

It’s not a major thing by any means, but is a thing and I’ve had refs bring it up to me in private conversations and I know the hard-working official scorers have heard it.

So when MLSE is looking at needed upgrades to their arena, a new scoreboard is a must. The tiny, out-of-date one the ACC has now simply won’t cut it.

The greatest story in the history of stories would be if Ottawa picked a dead guy No. 1 in today’s CFL draft.

And I lived and worked there through the Glieberpeople era, I can mock forever.

A thing said, verbatim, by David Blatt yesterday:

“A basketball coach makes 150 to 200 critical decisions during the course of a game, something that I think is paralleled only by a fighter pilot.”

David (Goose) Blatt, in that instance, is an utter t ool.

Seriously. Basketball coach. Fighter pilot. One matters, the other’s a basketball coach, for God’s sake.

He needs to get over himself.

Leaving on a jet plane bright and early tomorrow to go to Edmonton and check in on the women’s basketball team for a couple of days.

Last time I was in Edmonton it was as Argo Boy and I think I flew in game day and out the next. Any Edmonton Irregulars got good downtown-ish lunch and stool spots?

We’re a week out from the NBA lottery? Everyone pumped up?  Oh, wait. Probably not after that best-ever regular season.

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