NBA Introduces Rule Change to Stop Hack-a-Strategy
The 1995 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals pitted the Indiana Pacers and The New York Knicks. Both teams played an old school rugged style of basketball that featured big men going toe to toe and guards unafraid to drive the lane and bump bodies.
It was a great series and a brutal one to watch at the same time. In all 7 games combined, there was 429 free throw attempts. The pace of the game sometimes slowed to a mind numbing halt.
That same year was the start of the dominance of Shaquille O’Neal. The big man was difficult to handle — except at the free throw line, where he was more reminiscent of the near sighted Mr. Magoo. Mismatches underneath inevitably led to giving Shaq the hammer across the forearms so his invincibility around the basket could be taken to 15ft. Hack-a Shaq was officially invented, although it was nothing new. It just sounded new because it rhymed and no one had ever seen someone as large as Shaq before and as bad as he was from the free throw line. However, in no series that Shaq was in that year were there over 400 free throw attempts.
The Knicks and Pacers series was way more brutal and it wasn’t the only playoff series in 1995 that had over 400 foul shots taken in a game. The Suns and Rockets had over 400 in the West. Too many foul shots in a game can make viewing difficult to watch. The NBA has tried to let some calls go from time to time, much to the fans chagrin, especially of the home team. For comparison purposes, the most free throws in any series last season went to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors with a combined 366.
Last NBA season drew the attention of many critics as the Hack-a-Shaq technique has been deployed against some of the big men. Deandre Jordan and Andre Drummond see this quite a bit as their free throw percentages waver around the 40% mark. Many have called for rule changes to help curb these numbers from trending back into the mid 1990’s numbers of hundred of free throws per game. Not only does it slow play, but many fans have to turn they’re heads from watching the B horror film being shown at the free throw line.
Finally Taking a Step Forward
The NBA released a statement recently from their meetings about a slight rule change that may help ease the amount of off the ball fouls as time winds down each quarter. The rule change states that “away-from-the-play fouls applicable to the last two minutes of the fourth period (and last two minutes of any overtime) — pursuant to which the fouled team is awarded one free throw and retains possession of the ball — will be extended to the last two minutes of each period.”
It will also include defensive fouls committed before the ball is even inbounded, as well as making it an automatic flagrant for “dangerous or excessively hard deliberate fouls”. These types of fouls were sometimes called flagrant, but were never automatic.
Basically, you Hack-a-Deandre this time and he gets to only embarrass himself once and the Clippers get the ball back. It doesn’t sound like much of a change, but who the heck wants to give the ball back to Chris Paul a second time?
Teams try to use the fouling technique to regain possession of the ball and to award themselves the last shot. But sometimes it’s to the detriment of the viewer which really isn’t fair. But the commissioner stated that this rule change was a compromise, but ultimately 2/3 of the teams did vote it in.
“I definitely do not accept [the] premise that it is cosmetic and we wouldn’t have done it if it was only a cosmetic change. Nobody suggested that we will never have to discuss this again,” Silver was quoted saying.
Hopefully this means we won’t have to sit through any more 400 free throw games. I’d rather watch a B horror film.
(NBA Introduces Rule Change)(NBA Introduces Rule Change)