Shaq says new technical rules make refs stars, “you might as well start selling their jerseys at Footlocker”

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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.

Charles Barkley on new schedule: “These poor babies can’t play back-to-back games”

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Training camp hasn’t even opened yet, but Charles Barkley is already in midseason “get off my lawn” form.

Barkley — the man who can’t stand jump shooting teams, or analytics, or LeBron James asking for better players, or your newfangled technology — went off on another tedious rant at an SMU event Wednesday, this time about the NBA’s decision to start the season a little earlier and have fewer back-to-backs and eliminate four-games-in-five-nights.

Ugh. Like a lot of former players — and a lot of non-athletes, for that matter — Barkley is convinced his peak as a player coincided with the greatest era of basketball ever. Things were never better than the way they did it in his day.

Which means facts — like pointing to the studies that show players both are less likely to be injured and play better and more efficiently when rested — don’t matter. Barkley did it, so players now should have to do it. Who cares if all these packed in games can shorten their careers?

Then again, maybe a few days off would have helped Barkley in the second half of his career.

B.J. Armstrong, former Jordan-era Bull turned agent, told me last year that if teams and players knew in his day what they know now about rest and injury, you would have seen stars like MJ rest. Over time we learn more information, and the smart people and organizations adjust.

Barkley will make far more headlines over the course of the season, he gets paid to be brash, say whatever pops into head, and be generally draw attention to himself. It makes him entertaining, and that’s what Inside the NBA is about. But I will defer to Steve Kerr’s comments from last playoffs on all these old “get off my lawn” players.

“The game gets worse as time goes on. Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the 50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).