When the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets went to the “hack-a-Howard” strategy — fouling the Lakers Dwight Howard wherever he was on the court, even when he didn’t have the ball, to make him shoot free throws — it worked because it threw the Lakers off. In those two games Howard hit 50 percent of his free throws during the strategy (which still isn’t great), but the greater impact was it threw the Lakers out of rhythm on both ends of the court.
But it isn’t just the Lakers flow that gets thrown off, it’s the fans, too. Because watching a parade to the free throw line has the drawing power of CSPAN-2.
David Stern is all about the image and how games look on television — just ask Gregg Popovich and the Spurs — so you know he doesn’t like to watch hack-a-anyone. The league has effectively banned the strategy from the last two minutes of the game by making it two free throws plus the ball out of bounds if you foul off the ball.
And Stern told the guys from the Fox Sports New Orleans broadcast team (when he sat in with them for a bit Wednesday night during the Hornets/Lakers game) he tried to get it banned completely, but couldn’t. Thanks to Henry Abbott at TrueHoop for the transcription:
“I would have liked to have seen the rule changed to make the last-two-minute rule the whole rule,” he said. “It was getting to a point last year where, [in the] first period, they were just grabbing players. I think that’s ludicrous.
“We tried to change it to any time in the game because last year I guess it was everyone was fouling Tiago Splitter early on and the committee didn’t want to do it. And so that’s just the way it is. Because the reality is that there are a lot of basketball purists — and I understand that point of view — who say, ‘Hey, why don’t you learn to shoot foul shots? You’re supposed to be a pro.'”
Abbot makes an interesting suggestion — for off-the-ball fouls, offer the team the free throws or the ball out of bounds. Essentially eliminate the effectiveness of the strategy without killing the flow of the game as much.
I get that. The parade to the free throw line is no fun to watch. But if a guy can’t make his free throws, shouldn’t his team pay a price for that?
Bets are now being placed for the size of fine that LeBron James will receive from the the office after his comments following the Cleveland Cavaliers loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, 110-94.
After the game, James told reporters that he was sick of the officiating with reference to his drives. In particular, LeBron pointed out that he felt that shooters were being better protected than some of the more powerful drivers like him.
LeBron recorded a near triple-double in the loss to San Antonio, scoring 33 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists. That still wasn’t enough for the Cavaliers to push past their Western Conference rivals as LeBron & Co. lost by 16.
We saw quite a bit of complaining about officiating to start the season as the NBA has rotated in some less-experienced referees. Gregg Popovich got his fill. Kevin Durant went off. Steve Kerr blasted the refs. James Harden had strong words about an officiating setup. Patrick Patterson got fined $10,000 for criticizing the refs.
Fans and players alike were pushing for the league, NBRA, and NBPA to meet, which they were supposed to have done. We’re only a few days out from the All-Star break, so we still have yet to decide whether a change has taken place on the floor.
How he has been officiated has been a complaint of LeBron’s all season long, and so it’s not great news that he is talking about it just a week away from the All-Star game. James has posted the second-lowest FTA per 100 possessions of his career in 2017-18, trailing only his rookie season.
Dan Fegan, the former NBA agent for players like John Wall, Dwight Howard, and DeMarcus Cousins has reportedly passed away.
Fegan, 56, was at one point a representative for other big-name players including Chandler Parsons, DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, and Ed Davis. He had a public falling out in 2017 with his agency, Independant Sports & Entertainment (ISE). Fegan and ISE had filed suits against each other in 2017 after Fegan was fired.
The report of Fegan’s death comes from Aspen, Colo. where early on Sunday morning Fegan’s car collided with a bus.
Via Aspen Times:
Fegan was killed when the SUV he was driving was hit by a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus along Highway 82, the Colorado State Patrol said.
Two other passengers in the SUV, a 29-year-old woman from California and Fegan’s 5-year-old son, were airlifted to a hospital in Denver with serious injuries, according to Colorado State Trooper Gabe Easton. The name of the woman has not been released.
There was one passenger on the Glenwood Springs-bound bus, Easton said. Although they were “shaken up,” the bus driver and passenger were not injured, RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said.
Awful news for Fegan’s family. Hopefully his son and the other passenger make a speedy recovery.
Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham launched an attack at Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the NBA star voiced his opinion on Donald Trump. LeBron had done so many times before, alongside other notable NBA personalities like Kevin Durant and Steve Kerr.
This instance of LeBron speaking up apparently struck Ingraham in some type of way, enough to invoke a shot at James’ intelligence and speaking mannerisms in thinly-veiled comments. Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble” which sparked the ire of many around the league. LeBron responded in kind, and most considered Ingraham’s racially-tinged tirade to be par for the course from that particular outlet.
Ingraham, who failed to do basic research on LeBron’s background, community leadership, and charitable contributions, also drew criticism from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Speaking before San Antonio’s game against the Cavaliers, Popovich told a crowd that Ingraham’s comments said more about her than about LeBron, and that he was happy the game had such a positive role model for young fans in James.
Shoutout to Popovich for continuing to be a voice from such a prominent position within sports and pop culture. A small group of people keep responding to the Spurs coach much in the way Ingraham posited to LeBron, that he should stick to sports. Popovich, of course, is a veteran of the Air Force, worked his way up to Major, was at one point fluent in Russian, and worked in the intelligence sector. He’s uniquely qualified to comment on political happenings.
It’s good that guys like Pop and LeBron haven’t exhausted themselves even though the discussion about what they say is undoubtedly tiring.
The playoff picture in the Western Conference became much more opaque after Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler went down with a knee injury earlier in the week.
Reports out of Minnesota was that Butler had suffered a right meniscus injury, ducking what many had feared was an ACL tear. According to the team, Butler had successful surgery on his right meniscus this weekend.
As of Sunday morning they did not have a timetable for his return.
Minnesota currently stands third in the West but they will have a hard time fending off the rest of the playoff hopeful teams below them without their star player.
For his part, Butler is hoping he will be back in time for the playoffs. Early reports were that the team was thinking his recovery had a 4-to-6 week timeline, but again nothing has been set. Meniscus recovery times vary greatly depending on the issue at hand and the procedure done, neither of which we have details on at this time.
The Timberwolves have the 15th most difficult strength of schedule ahead of them according to Tankathon.com, with games against major Western Conference opponents ahead of them as well as bottom-dwellers like the Memphis Grizzlies.
Minnesota has been a good story all season long. No doubt many will bring up Tom Thibodeau’s workload once again with Butler injured, something compounded by Butler apparently requesting to rest during the 2018 All-Star Game.
Wolves fans have been waiting a long time for this. They don’t deserve this kind of punishment at this late a date, but the Basketball Gods are cruel and unceasingly unforgiving.