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Is NBA’s new crackdown on gestures robbing game of emotion?

Oct 12, 2010, 8:50 AM EDT

Image (1) anthony_ref-thumb-250x168-10417.jpg for post 1634

In one scenario, Kobe Bryant drives the lane and draws contact but no whistle is blown, so throws up his hands in disgust, says something to the referee and trails the play back up the court so he can glare at the ref.

In another scenario, Kobe drives the lane and draws contact and a foul is called on Chauncey Billups as the defender, who throws his arms up in disgust but walks away without talking to the ref; he just moves away, refocuses and gets ready to go on.

Under the NBA’s new crackdown, both of those reactions get a technical foul. Both players made a gesture.

NBA players are not thrilled, and after meeting with NBA officials about the crackdown a couple Nuggets spoke to the Denver post about it.

After Monday’s practice, Billups first gestured as if he didn’t want to discuss the issue. But then, asked if emotions are hard to keep in check, the Nuggets veteran said: “(They’re) impossible to keep in check. It’s an emotional game, and it’s impossible to not show emotion playing basketball. Shoot, it’s impossible to do playing golf. And that’s no physical contact at all, no referees, nothing. It’s tough.”

Forward Carmelo Anthony joked: “I’m not going to say nothing (to referees during games)…. You’re going to have guys who get emotional during the game, clap their hands, yell and scream. As long as they do that in a professional way, I don’t think that should be a tech, but we can’t do that anymore.… From what we’ve seen (with the new crackdown), we can’t have that much emotion.”

As tends to happen when the NBA does this every few years (much like crackdowns on other rules), there will be a lot of early-season technicals as referees enforce the letter of the law and players try to adjust. But the referees will slip back over time, and the players will make a little step to be less demonstrative.

You can rest assured that this will come up again the first time a tech is called that changes the end of a game — when players should be emotional and passionate. There will be a backlash.

But we need to have this crackdown… because some focus groups said so.

  1. mustbenugs - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Seems like Daniel Stern tries something new every year at least once to try and ruin the game… he’s done a couple things leaning towards runing the game already this year.

  2. zblott - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    More than anything it robs the non-glory teams of actually being able to express what they need to say when the refs are robbing them (think 2002 Kings-Lakers). Here’s an article outlining how bad it is:

  3. paul1990 - Oct 12, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    I officiate a lot of basketball at the high school level and see the same actions by players and coaches. Let me tell you something…officiating basketball is harder than it looks. No one should ever be able to complain about officials on ALL levels until you officiated the game at least 8-10 times. Understand the rotations and how you can get screened off visually by another player in game conditions. If you’ve officiated that many games, then I’ll give you a seat and a beer and you can yell at me all you want.

  4. smith5646 - Oct 13, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    I too have officiated a number of games, mostly intramural and church leagues, where the guys like to play but can’t. paul1990 is 100% correct. It is a lot easier to do from the seats than from the floor.

    Because it is VERY difficult to watch everything that all 10 players are doing at the same time and because I have often gotten screened from a play and didn’t see the contact, I never had a problem with players “gesturing” as long as it was appropriate / civil gesturing (giving me the bird was a severe no-no). Hands in the air to me was always a way of saying “Did you see what they just did to me?” That was what it meant to me when I played…either that or “I can’t believe that I just did that!”.

    It is an emotional and frustrating game. Let the players have a civil way of expressing this emotion and frustration and let them play the game. Next thing you know, they will prevent smiling when things go right because it is taunting.

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