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Overtly complain about a call, get a technical. It's now the law.

Sep 24, 2010, 8:30 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Garnett_referee.jpgKobe Bryant does it. LeBron James does it. Kevin Garnett does it. Much of the league does it. Rasheed Wallace did it like he was playing down at Venice Beach in Los Angeles.

Players complain about calls. Or non-calls. They throw their hands in the air in disgust even at the most obvious of calls.

Do it now, get a technical.

It’s one of the changes in rule enforcement in the NBA this coming season, as the league announced this week. Players that make an aggressive gesture, and ones that are demonstrable after a call, charge at referee after a call and you get a technical. Even if you use a polite tone, if you enquirer multiple times (Derek Fisher, Ray Allen) you get a “T.” It’s not just words it’s body language. The league laid out specific actions that get you a tech now and told the refs to enforce it.

Why the change? Because you complained.

This comes based on fan surveys, as Ron Johnson, the NBA’s senior vice president of referee operations told Henry Abbott of ESPN.

 “Our players are more personally connected to fans than any other sports,” Johnson said. “We don’t have masks. … There’s nothing you can hide on the expression of an NBA players. … People expect hockey players to be fighting. They expect baseball managers to be kicking dirt on umpires. But that’s not our game. That’s not what our fans want. They tell us in many many ways and I think we have to adjust to meet the needs of our league and our fans. It’s a business.”

Players are supposed to be able to make heat of the moment reactions, but it’s the extended over the top reactions that are supposed to draw fines.

It will be interesting to see where this like is drawn. Will some referees take it to an extreme where they pass out a lot of techs, while others will be treating it like the status quo. What players want is consistency, and this seems like it will be very inconsistent.

  1. Zachariah Blott - Sep 24, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    It sounds good in theory, but this is only going to protect the popular teams who make great story lines for the league even more so. Things are already questionable and amiss as is with the refs, taking away the “little guy’s” ability to complain and point it out while it’s happening is really going to suck. Expect nothing but Stern-approved plots and champions from this point on unless a team can get REALLY hot and overcome it. Unless some team shoots 60% 3’s against them, bet the farm on LA/Kobe winning an MJ-tying 6th ring this year; it’s too good of a story line for the NBA to not let it happen, especially with this new rule.

  2. Lils - Sep 24, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    For the league to now label something as benign as a fist pump a technical foul, they may as well just stop having actual games and instead air footage from the NBA 2K video game. That way, they won’t have to worry about dealing with actual human beings. I bet the NBA can’t wait until robots are more commonplace so they can just sign those to play for teams instead of having to deal with pesky old emotions-ridden human athletes.

  3. Larry - Sep 24, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    Anther stupid Stern idea that will make it easy to not go to games and not watch them. Emotion is part of sports and if theses emotions aren’t confrontational towards the refs there is no reason to slow the game with more controversial free throws.
    The refs in general are not good and to try and cover for bad calls is not the answer. I don’t need the NBA. Thanks Stern and Johnson for forcing me to do more productive things.

  4. pesadilla - Sep 24, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    It’s about time. They are paid to be professionals both on and off the court. Man up, you over paid babies.

  5. rtg27 - Sep 24, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    this whole thing about the NBA picking champions is about the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard. if the NBA was fixing championships i’m pretty sure they could’ve found a team more interesting than the Spurs to give a dynasty to.

  6. jed - Sep 24, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    I agree with pesadilla.
    If I act up or complain at my boss about decisions he makes on the job, what do you think will happen to me? I would most likely lose my job. Basketball is a entertainment business. What gives these millionaires the right to complain about a foul? Refs are HUMANS and they are going to make mistakes. Get over the foul. It’s basketball. The refs aren’t going to change their mind once they make the call. These guys play in front of thousands of people just about every night and who do you think are some of the people watching these athletes? KIDS… When these kids see KOBE, LeBron, Garnett, Howard complain about calls and make guestures, what do you think they do? They think it’s ok to act that way in recreational or school ball. These PROFESSIONAL athletes are looked at as role models and they should be able to be an adult and handle themselves better than what they do. I know there are times that they are in the moment and they may slip up at times, but they take it too far at times and it happens everytime a call is made. Look at Shane Battiet. (sp) Does he complain about whether his finget got touched while he was shooting? NO…He plays his heart out every night and that’s because he has respect for the refs and the game of basketball.
    I hope the refs enforce this rule. These players have too much reign to say and do whatever they want.

  7. Robert Lockwood Mills - Sep 24, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    The great irony is that most referees don’t enforce the rules of basketball to begin with, and the superstars benefit the most. When do you ever see a Lebron James or a Kobe Bryant called for traveling? Or palming the ball?
    NBA Basketball is all about showtime. Let the superstars do their thing, and let the crowd roar.

  8. Joey - Sep 24, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    And this is going to help my enjoyment of the game how exactly? Call me crazy but I actually enjoy seeing some emotion on the court. If a guy makes a big scene then he deserves a tech, but throwing up your arms over a questionable call is normal behavior. Will they start calling techs when a guy gets pissed about missing a shot, too? (And we won’t even get into how this will inevitably bite the league in the behind when it ends up determining the outcome of a big playoff game.)

  9. Mike - Sep 24, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    The NBA needs less judgment calls, not more. They’re already in trouble because the stars get to play by a totally different set of rules, this will be no different. Kobe and LeBron will never get t’ed up in crunch time for questioning a call but some poor bench player will get his teeth knocked out on the way to the basket without a getting a whistle and will get a tech for bleeding in the ref’s direction.

  10. Neil - Sep 24, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    This will only hasten the demise of the NBA as a spectator sport. As it is, the referees can control the complaining without new rules by simply informing the players as the game begins that no back talk will be tolerated. That said, the refs should also say that they are going to let ticky tack stuff go, but once a call is made “shut your trap”.

  11. geo59 - Sep 24, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Didn’t they try this a few years ago. The same thing…, they were going to call technicals if players visibly complained. And it went nowhere. Because it’s an absurd idea. To expect NBA players to behave like robots is ridiculous. Nowhere else in sports is this expected. The truth is that when the league says they are doing this because the fans want it they are responding to the haters and racists who constantly target NBA players with their moronic venom. It’s pretty sickening to think that the league is catering to the jealous, racist element in society. Doesn’t matter, because it won’t work. It didn’t work before and it won’t work now. Not saying players should be able to charge at refs but to start talking about body language and facial expressions, etc. is, well, a disgustingly obvious attempt at slavery style control. When will the league be rid of Stern? What’s next, is the league going to ban dunking again to even the playing field for white men who can’t jump? Pathetic.

  12. Anonymous - Sep 25, 2010 at 5:47 AM

    The idea is supposed to allow for heat of the moment reactions.
    If the referees abuse it is one thing.
    However the players have been getting away with things that would never be allowed at any other level of basketball.
    Show some sportsmanship… questioning a call is one thing… repeatedly targetting the referree that made the call and not getting on with the game is another.

  13. PG - Sep 25, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Absolutely agree with you. Sports is a business first from the POV of the league. The game/players/fans come a distant second. It might help the objectivity of foul calls if the league stopped concentrating on marketing players first, but it ain’t gonna happen.

  14. PG - Sep 25, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Absolutely agree with you. Sports is a business first from the POV of the league. The game/players/fans come a distant second. It might help the objectivity of foul calls if the league stopped concentrating on marketing players first, but it ain’t gonna happen.

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