a report from the Associated Press that the NBA Player's
Union has had enough of the so-called "zero tolerance" crackdown on
demonstrative behavior by players and/or coaches following a foul call
by assessing technical fouls.
This directive was made in response to
the out of control behavior of some players and coaches in recent
seasons. There was an increase in situations where players or coaches
were berating the refs, and tempers flared on several occasions.
the new policy stopped short of being considered a rule change,
described instead as a more aggressive enforcement of existing
In looking at the official NBA rules, under "Officials and Their
Duties", it reads under Rule 12-Fouls and Penalties: Section V-Conduct:
"An official may assess a technical
foul, without prior warning, at any
time. A Technical foul(s) may be assessed to any player on the
or anyone seated on the bench for conduct which, in the opinion of the
official, is is detrimental to the game...A maximum of two technicals
for unsportsmanlike acts may be assessed any player, coach, or trainer.
Any of these offenders may be ejected for for committing only
unsportsmanlike act, and they must be ejected for committing two...A
technical foul shall be assessed for unsportsmanlike acts such as: (1)
Disrespectfully addressing an official (2) Physically contacting an
official (3) Overt actions indicating resentment to a call (4)
profanity...Cursing or blaspheming an official shall not be considered
the only cause for for imposing technical fouls. Running tirades,
continuous criticism or griping may be sufficient cause to assess a
technical. Excessive misconduct shall result in expulsion from
A look at Section III-Elastic Power, states: "The officials shall have the power
to make decisions on any point not specifically covered in the rules."
This means that
according to the rules, the officials are well within their rights to
assess a technical for the behavior described. Over the last
15-20 years, the officials, for the most part, became much more
tolerant of the occasional passionate outburst. But some players,
including Celtics players ranging from Danny Ainge to Antoine Walker,
raised bitching to an art form. We saw people literally whining
and yelling at officials, following them around even after play resumed
in some cases. Things got totally out of control when Dallas
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was getting on the court and yelling at
officials during a playoff game.
The zero tolerance was made with the best of intentions, designed to
reinforce that there was recourse against the worst offenders.
The problem was if you only called certain people, someone would be
bound to complain about preferential treatment, so they went after everybody.
Last season, there were 66 technical fouls assessed through the first
50 NBA games. So far, one week into the new season, there's been
122 called in the first 51 games. I'll be the first to admit
there's a few people who abuse the officials and deserve a technical,
but this is silly. I almost think the refs are venting a bit
after all the abuse of past seasons.
Too bad. It's their own fault. Had they simply taken a
firmer stand years ago, the antics tolerated until so recently would
never have been tolerated to begin with.
Now, Union leader Billy Hunter is discussing possible legal action for
unfair labor practices. Keep in mind, the tech fouls come with
fines. Players are fined $1,000 for each of
their first five technicals, an
amount that increases by $500 for each five after that, capped by a
$2,500 penalty for each one starting with the 16th. A one-game
suspension also comes at that point and for every other technical
At that rate, Ron Artest and Rasheed Wallace may surpass Mark Cuban for
the amount of fines levied by the League.
Basically, the players want things to ease up a bit, and they have a
point. The message has been received. Now, let the
officials exercise the discretion they have and let the guys vent
reasonably. If someone overdoes it, hit him with a "T". But
an emotional reaction to the moment doesn't merit that kind of
reaction. Nobody wants to go to war over this, they just want
some reasonable tolerance.
But the players--and coaches and owners--also need to be reasonable.
The officials have to make the calls and once it's done, it's done.
Let's move the game on. You're getting paid to play the game, not
complain about it. It's one thing to comment "you called this on
my guy but not on the other guy." but after that, let it
go. Some of the histrionics--sadly including some Celtics
players--are totally out of proportion to what's going on. I've
always said that the best way to deal with a bad call is to score
enough points that it doesn't matter in the end. Don't let the
game depend on the officials.
We've had a preseason and a week of regular season gone by now.
It's time to relax a bit and play the game.
And that's the view from the doghouse.