I take it that you’re all settled into the big chair now. You’re probably still winding down from the tornado that is All-Star Weekend, but I figured now is as good a time as any to make our acquaintance. He likely didn’t mention me, but that other commissioner, David Stern, listened to my opinions from time to time and I’m hoping that you’ll do the same. I know you’ve been inundated with suggestions on how to the improve the NBA so I’ll limit this to one topic. You’ve said that you want to look into speeding the game up and I’ve got a few simple ideas on how you can do this:
- Instant Replay – Rod Thorn has gone on record saying that replay review will be centralized as soon as next season. This is a fabulous idea and you even talked about last summer. Why you didn’t implement for the season escapes me, but I digress. Hopefully, this will speed up the game enough for us fans to stop rolling our eyes when instant replay is used. I have two suggestions if it doesn’t. First, you can create a rule that bans teams from calling a timeout immediately following a review. Teams basically use reviews as timeouts anyways and there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting a few minutes for officials to review a play only to have a coach call timeout after they’ve made a call. I saw this happen in a game last week. Second, stop expanding the use of replay. I was all in favor of bringing into the NBA at first. Everyone wants officials to get the calls right, but there are now 14 things officials can review. That’s simply too much. As a result, they’ve begun to use instant replay as crutch. Rather than making a call and being sure of the call they’ve made, referees instead give confused looks to each other then decide to go the monitors. Speaking for us fans, I think we’d rather officials be sure of the calls they make even if it’s the wrong one. And if you’re not sure which of those 14 things to eliminate you can start with clear path fouls.
- Intentional Fouling1 – The 3rd quarter of a game between the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers took about 45 minutes of real-time. You’d agree that is way too long for 12 minutes of game to take. It took that long because Raptors’ coach, Duane Casey, elected to intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan with his team down 20 midway through that 3rd quarter. This continued until Jordan was taken out of the game at the 3:31 mark. Some might argue that this is a sound strategy for coaches to deploy – sending a terrible free throw shooter to the foul line with the hopes of shaving points off of a big lead2. It might be. I’ve gone back and forth on that myself. One thing it definitely isn’t is entertaining. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, is entertained by watching teams intentionally foul a player multiple times. It’s not what we pay to see and it goes against your initiative of speeding the game up Unfortunately, coaches are likely to do it as long as the rules allow it which means it’s time to change the rules. Lucky for you, you’ve already got the solution(s) in the existing rulebook. You could impose the same penalty that’s given for the previously mentioned clear path foul – one FT and possession. Another option would be to extend the two-minute rule and allow any player on the court to shoot the FTs. Either of this options would stop coaches from intentionally fouling players and save the rest of us from the agony of watching it.
Since this is our first conversation, I’ll table some other issues for a later date3. Overall, Adam, you’ve inherited an NBA that’s in great shape. There’s a large amount of talented players and teams are worth more than they’ve ever been. I’m confident that the NBA’s Silver Age will be bright, exciting and a bunch of other good things. After all, you can’t do worse than Bettman right?
- I’m refusing to call it “Hack-a-whomever”. That name should’ve retired with Shaq.
- For the record, Toronto knocked 2 points off of that 20 point lead by fouling Jordan.
- Up next, the age limit. I see you with your “in the players’ best interest” line.