Why do you go to basketball games? The players? The passion and emotion? The skills?
Shaquille O’Neal is on board with all that and he thinks the NBA’s new crackdown on complaints and handing out of technicals gets in the way of all that, as he told Holly McKenzie of The Score (via Trey Kerby). Shaq said fans want the emotion and the players to be the focus — unless you’re serious about making the referees stars.
“I just think that if you give those guys that much control you might as well start selling their jerseys at Footlocker. This is an emotional game. I know when I pay the money to different arenas and I take my sons and my daughters, I want to see everything. I want to see them talking smack, I want to see it all. You can’t try to just cut off an emotional game — expect people not to have emotion.
“[I’ll] say that you can probably cut out the secondary and the third emotion, but if you hit me with this mic right here, like this, I’m gonna at least go, ‘Whoa, what you doing?’ I can’t just let you hit me with the mic and just keep talking, ‘Yeah, everything’s good, I love Toronto,’ you know what I’m saying? I’ve got to at least have that, ‘What are you doing?’ I think they [should] give us room to respectfully react once, sometimes maybe twice. Matter of fact, just keep it like the way it was.”
“The other night, I don’t think KG did anything to get tossed out. Like I said, [you’re] going to give them that much control you might as well start selling their jerseys. Might as well make them stars.”
The new rules tell referees to call a technical on any overt expression of displeasure with a call, or any discussion of a call with a referee that goes on too long. That led to four techs in 16 seconds the other night in the Boston/New York game. Soon it will change the outcome of games. And right now, the problem — well, one of the problems — is the consistency. Amare Stoudemire yelled at a referee about a no call just minutes before KG got tossed the other night. Different standards. It’s like that everywhere.
We said it before — problem number one with the NBA’s new technical foul enforcement is you put the referees right in the spotlight. In an ideal game they blend into the background, this forces them front and center.
But Shaq really said that better than we could have.