NBA players spend a significant amount of time in the offseason trying to figure out ways to trick the referees, with some going so far as to workout with a full officiating crew so they can find the right angles to hide their sleight-of-hand.
But some fans have started to complain about all this trickeration, including the types of “fouls” drawn on 3-point shots where jump shooters clearly leave their own space and enter that of the defender’s.
In a recent edition of his NBA newsletter, New York Times writer Marc Stein responded to a reader question about this phenomenon by quoting Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
According to Stein, Cuban isn’t a fan of these calls and he sees a simple solution.
Via NY Times Newsletter:
Shooters intentionally trying to draw fouls, by contrast, is a far saucier issue.
You certainly have a vocal supporter in Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who was tweeting on the subject early in the Houston/Golden State series and issued this challenge to referees when I asked him about it Monday: “Just have some guts and say it’s not a foul.”
After the matter generated so much debate this postseason, let’s see how much discussion will take place at the league’s next scheduled Competition Committee meeting in July during summer league. The committee also convenes by conference call in June.
The solution for players purposefully trying to train themselves to be able to trick referees the way they have isn’t clear. It has seemed quite obvious when watching games — even for fans watching them in real time — that a lot of these 3-point shot fouls aren’t really fouls.
At a distance, it feels like we are destined for one of two things: Either real time broadcast referees back in New Jersey who will be able to radio in calls, or a point of emphasis in the next few seasons that stops players from doing this.
Of course, the NBA likes to put in these point of emphasis rules for a few weeks, then stop calling them altogether. Remember when guys were getting technical fouls for flops? That was so very long ago.
This NBA postseason has not been kind for the NBA or its officiating crews, and eventually people are going to start to feel as though they don’t understand the game they are watching any longer. The NBA is in danger of becoming the NFL in that regard, and the rancor is only going to grow thanks to social media. Something serious needs to be done, and at its core it seems like they need to get back to playing the game and calling the game the way it was intended.
That’s something that’s harder than it sounds, but at the very least it should be easy to stop calling fouls on shooters who plainly throw themselves into the reasonable path of defenders.