Technically Speaking

Posted by By at 14 March, at 17 : 54 PM Print

Last Friday the NBA rescinded Amar’e Stoudemire’s would-be 16th technical foul which would’ve landed him an automatic one game suspension.  He was involved in an altercation with Maverick’s center Brendan Haywood in the second quarter of the Knicks’ 127-109 loss to Dallas. Haywood also had the technical foul he received for the altercation rescinded as well. With Stoudemire’s total reduced to 15, Orlando’s Dwight Howard remains the only player this season to amass 16 technical fouls and earning himself the mandatory one game suspension.

In taking a look at the leading offenders behind Howard & Stoudemire we have Stephen Jackson (not really a surprise here), Carmelo Anthony (maybe he racked up a few complaining to the refs thinking they could help him get out of Denver), Kobe Bryant (guess those fouls didn’t get called on his arms and legs the flail on almost every jumper), Chauncey Billups (a bit surprised at this one), and Kevin Garnett (insert trash talk comment here). So I guess stars don’t really get as much preferential treatment as we thought. Or maybe they do, maybe these guys would have more if they weren’t stars. In case you weren’t counting that list includes five starters from this year’s all-star game and a former Finals MVP. If they’re trying to crack down on complaining, how come Tim Duncan’s on the list?

Before this season the league decided to tweak it’s definition of a technical foul to try and clean up the image of the game. The big focus this time was demonstrative acts of emotion, such as waving hands or outward shows of disgust at a call in an attempt to show up the referee. You can now be for a tech for complaining for a foul not being called, which was not previously the case. You can also now be whistled up for an open sign of frustration, even if it’s at yourself such as slamming the ball down.

Sports are emotional, always have been, always will be. When you start penalizing players for playing with emotion and expressing it the situation is bound to get worse. Combine that with the fact that the officials have had almost all of their abilities to make judgment calls taken away and this could end up being a problem come playoff time. With playoff basketball comes a ratcheted up level of intensity and with the rate T’s have been handed out this season it wouldn’t surprise me if a series, or two, this post season hinges on a crucial tech call at a bad time.

The NBA record for technical fouls in a season is 41 by Rasheed Wallace (shocker to no one who follows the NBA) in the 2000-2001 season. That being said, how many would he have had this year? I’m going to conservatively say almost double. Or how about Charles Barkley? Dick Bavetta would need a new ball in his whistle I’m sure. I was watching the Knicks-Mavericks game when Stoudemire & Haywood received their now-rescinded technicals and if they’re going to start calling techs for what they did, then it’s probably a good thing we didn’t have the rules we have now back in the 80s and 90s. The “Bad Boys” Pistons teams might have had to forfeit games due to lack of available players. Dennis Rodman may not have played in enough games to qualify for a rebounding title. Karl Malone may have not played in enough games to be #2 on the all-time scoring list.

In looking back at the leaders this season 6 of the top 7 on the list will all be in the playoffs. On the surface, that’s not sounding good. The Knicks, who are looking pretty solid as a playoff team right now baring an epic collapse, have three of the top seven. Howard, Bryant, and Garnett will also be lacing them up come playoff time. Will their reputations precede them and they continued to get whistled or will the refs realize the importance of playoff basketball and return to the days of old when judgment was used instead of automatically calling techs based on rule book definitions? For the sake of the teams and players involved and the fans who want to see superstars playing in crunch time in meaningful games I’m hoping for the later.

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