Skip to content

Mark Cuban not in favor of Stern changing ‘hack-a-Dwight’ rule on intentional fouls

Dec 6, 2012, 11:27 PM EDT

Mark Cuban, David Stern AP

The NBA’s intentional foul rules — you know, the ones that allow the “Hack-a-[blank]” strategy which grinds the game to a halt to send the other team’s worst free throw shooters to the foul line — have been a hot topic in the early part of the season.

You can largely thank Dwight Howard and the Lakers for that, since teams are forcing the starting center of one of the league’s glamor franchises to try to make free throws instead of letting them run their offensive sets.

The strategy is mathematically questionable at best, yet with Howard only converting free throws at a clip of just under 47 percent, it’s something that’s likely to persist until that number begins to rise, or until the Lakers are winning games by a large enough margin to make doing so simply unwise.

David Stern said he’d like to eliminate teams’ ability to do this entirely, because from a watchability standpoint, it isn’t very entertaining. But from a strategy standpoint, it makes sense to minimize your opponent’s chances by making them do something that statistically they don’t do very well at all.

It’s a divisive issue, but at least one prominent team owner, Mark Cuban, likes the rule just the way it is.

From Art Garcia of

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t for the rule change for basketball reasons from the professional level on down to little leagues.

“It sends the wrong message to kids every where that it’s OK to not pay attention to basketball fundamentals,” Cuban told

“In addition, intentional fouls humanize the game. There are 10 year olds who are watching these amazing athletes who have problems with free throws thinking that they can do something an NBA superstar can’t.”

“You can’t give a player an advantage or reward them for failing to do something that is a basic fundamental basketball skill,” Cuban added. “When a guy can’t shoot a jump shot, whether you are in a church league or the NBA, you do what you can to make them shoot jump shots.

“If a guy can’t shoot free throws, you should do the same thing. Do what you can to send them to the line.”

Cuban isn’t likely the only owner who feels this way. And with so few teams and players on the wrong end of the rules the way they currently stand, don’t expect Stern to get much support in his quest to change things anytime soon.

  1. eventhorizon04 - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:37 PM


    I understand it’s not fun to watch for most fans, but it does add an element of strategy to late game situations.

    Also, to make the strategy not worthwhile for the other team, all a player has to do is shoot over 60% from the line. You don’t have to be Dirk Notwizki or Ray Allen with over 90% – just 60% or so. The vast majority of players can do that (league average is 75%), and it’s not unreasonable for these players to be forced to do that.

    • nbascreed - Dec 7, 2012 at 6:13 AM

      There’s a ball side to this in which I fully agree with you…meh…Howard (or any pro) should be able to shoot over 60%. If a 5th grade kid can stand at the line and make 8-10 consistently there is NO reason Duncan, Howard, Shaq et al can’t do better.

      The business, side which I THINK stern is trying to protect here, is it’s no fun to watch. At all. It kills the flow of the game. And the NBAs US Growth Model (I’m guessing) is predicated on turning casual fans into core fans. This doesn’t help with that conversion. Think of casual fans who know the “Kobe” brand are tuning in to see some of his heralded late game heroics, replaced with 4 continuous trips of stopped play and Howard bricks. Why would I come back?

      • justwannawinna - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

        Well thats the risk u take with a powerful big man that cant shoot free throws. Its strategy if u change the rules from a physical game to a non contact game thats one thing but to just change the fubdamentals to help certain teams is just unheard of. I mean imagine if Shaq had that rule, the magic would have won like 2 rings in his stay and not to mention the 4-5 with the lakers. You dont change the rules because of tv ratings, this is a sport if u change it atleast make it because of injury or unfair advantage.

  2. hoodheisman - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    Pretty much explains why Cuban will never land a big name free agent. Nobody is gonna roll with an owner that puts his own personal interests above everybody else’s.

    • limonadamas - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      I guarantee you that if Cuban got Dwight this past off-season that he wouldn’t be saying this now. That’s what I can’t stand about the guy.

  3. twreck13 - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    It’s funny because as kids my friends and I joked with each other about how we could be shaq at shooting free throws

    Right on cube

  4. twreck13 - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:46 PM


  5. mazblast - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    Stern’s real motivation is his insane desire for a Heat-Lakers “The Finals” before he allegedly retires. Little Caesar will do anything necessary to get that, even if it means arbitrarily changing the rules to benefit the Lakers. We’re used to seeing this kind of help from him to his favorite team.

    Cuban knows exactly what The Troll is doing, and I can see another big fine for Cuban for daring to resist it. Stern will probably throw in a fine for the Spurs with it, because he loves doing that, too.

    • aqzi - Dec 7, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      The money from fines goes to charity right? I think it would be funny if Stern fined Cuban and said the money was going towards underprivileged kids learning “basketball fundamentals” to “humanize” the game–ie, basketball courts in poor neighborhoods.

      Rule changes don’t happen fast enough to have an effect while Stern is still commish. I think he’s genuinely interested in keeping the sport entertaining…which obviously keeps the money flowing in.

    • kanemoney - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      I am pretty sure he would have approved the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade then.

      Also I think he would rather have a Knicks – Lakers finals if he could choose one. Two largest TV markets.

  6. magicbucs - Dec 7, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    There better not be a rule change just because it’s Dwight with the lakers. Teams have done this before while d12 was in Orlando tho most of the time Dwight would go on a good streak and teams would stop. But there was no rule change there.

    the 2 min rule was already put in for shaq now it’s going to be changed again for Dwight?
    How about we change the all the rules to help the lakers win…. Smh

    • mytthor - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:31 AM

      yeah clearly stern wants the lakers to win – like when he saved them from the horror of trading for the best
      pg in the game.

  7. watermelon1 - Dec 7, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    I’m not a fan of either team, or any of the players. But the rule SHOULD be changed. And we don’t have the Lakers and Dwight to thank for this. We have that annoying Greg Poppivich and the Spurs to thank for this.

    The fact is… this isn’t basketball. If you want to intentionally foul someone with the ball, then fine.. foul them. If the other team has a bad free throw shooter… and they pass him the ball, then that’s their fault. If he gets a rebound and is fouled. He shoots.

    But the issue here is intentionally fouling someone away from the ball. That’s not basketball. If this happens, then anyone on the court should be able to shoot the free throws.

    And for the record, I’m completely for teams being able to sit whatever players they want. On that issue, I completely disagree with Stern. If they’re going to try and milk the fans for money…. and have such a demanding schedule with back-to-back games, then coaches and teams should be able to rest if they see fit. I’d be completely fine with a season with 20 fewer games, and spread out over the same amount of time. One thing I’m not fine with is watching a “game” extended over 4 hours because a team is just fouling someone who doesn’t even have the ball over and over because THEY don’t feel they are good enough at basketball to win by playing the right way.

    • bballron - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:04 AM

      YES! Exactly! No one else is talking about the real issue here: This is an off ball foul! These teams are finding loop holes in the rules. It shouldn’t be used like that. I like your idea, when there is a foul off ball the team should decide who shoots the free throws. That would solve the problem.

    • louhudson23 - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:17 AM

      He is on the floor,he gets fouled,he shoots. Sit his ass or make his FT.

    • svupper - Dec 7, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      Im not a fan of all the changes.. Just look at the NBA in the 90s, most people who actually grew up with that era of basketball, should hate what Stern have done to the league with the these changes, you cant do anything anymore, so sure, lets just change yet another rule..

      Thank freakin god the Stern era is almost done, cause at this rate, players wouldnt be allowed to look at eachother in 5-10 years, without getting T’d up, Fined og Banned..

  8. jimsjam33 - Dec 7, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    Stern can’t get his way all the time . Sorry Commissioner ! No Heat vs. the Lakers next year . Think of it in this scenario . It’s much better for the league . The New York Knicks vs. The Los Angeles Clippers . That would be a much better show for the fans and your ratings around the world would go through the roof .

  9. hodaghunter - Dec 7, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    If you have an issue with this then go work with Howard and improve his free throw shooting. Till then it’s just a part of the game. And why is this a “Howard” issue… Teams are famous for doing it to Tim Duncan of the Spurs. At least their coach is smart enough to identify when to take Duncan out of the lineup at the end of the games to avoid this.

  10. pike573 - Dec 7, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    Yeah, so… That was a load of crap from Cubes. He likes it because it might help his team beat the Lakers.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      I’m a Laker fan and I think Cuban made good points. It’s immaterial if he would use it to his advantage to beat the Lakers.

    • svupper - Dec 7, 2012 at 8:00 AM

      Yeah let’s just remove TOs too, cause apparently tactics in the NBA are over rated..

      Jesus christ dude, He likes it, cause its always been like that, so what you are saying, is that it aint okay for Cuban complain about it?
      Instead the Lakers should get this rule handed to them on a silver platter, cause that is the fair thing to do, cause now THEY can get the upperhand and got an unfair advantage over every team that actually learned the basics, on how to hit a freethrow..

      You sir, is an idiot!

  11. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Stern should leave it alone.

    He’s destroying the game.

    If anything, it’s Howards’ fault for throwing free throw bricks. Same goes to Shaq way back.

    The solution is simple: Players like Howard should keep on practicing and improve on their free throws. Why should the game itself suffer just because some all-star player or any nba player for that matter couldn’t elevate his game on the line?

  12. savvybynature - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    I’m OK with letting teams choose who shoots FTs for off-the-ball fouls, but they shouldn’t just try to get rid of FTs at the end of games, which is what it sounds like Stern favors.

    Shooting free throws is a fundamental part of basketball. Stern shouldn’t try to eliminate the parts of the games that he feels are boring. Not every play is going to be a dunk and it would honestly be boring if it was.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Dec 7, 2012 at 1:55 AM

      I’m okay too with choosing the shooter for an off-ball foul.

      But I rather go for the player being fouled as the shooter. They should learn to elevate their game. They’re professionals. It should pressure them all the more to stop throwing bricks at the free throw line.

  13. smcgaels1997 - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    Pretty simple, Howard sucks at FT shooting so a rule should be in place to help him? Seriously, he makes millions shoot a frickin free throw.. Oh that’s right he whined until he got traded ..he gets what he wants

  14. davidly - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:51 AM

    If they wanna smoke doobies, let’em smoke doobies!

  15. raidmagic - Dec 7, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Why wasn’t this ever a story before Howard went to LA? For the last few years in Orlando this was done to the Magic and no one was complaining.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Dec 9, 2012 at 4:06 AM

      Good point.

  16. svupper - Dec 7, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    Honestly i can’t see why it should be changed.. If you’re an NBA athlete, the LEAST you can do, is learning how to hit a freethrow, it’s a basic part of the game, and if you fail to master that bit, you deserve to get punished for it..

    So you can bitch all you want about Cuban, but when it comes down to it, you should just get in the gym and work on that part of your game. There’s a reason why people like Jordan, LeBron, Kobe and so on, are some of the best players to play the game.
    They took their weekness and made it their strength.. So don’t change the rule, make players work for the legacy instead.

  17. brewdogg - Dec 7, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    It’s pretty boring watching teams shoot perimeter jumpers over and over again, too, so how about we change the rules to forbid double teams in the lane?

    It’s also kind of boring seeing point guards drive the lane themselves possession after possession, so how about a requisite pass before a shot can be taken?

    Or how about you let the coaches do what they are paid to do, which is to devise strategies to give their team the best chance to win. I don’t care who the player is or what team they are on, no rule should be changed for the sake of one or a few select players. If they are truly worthy of being considered stars, then they will figure out how to overcome these methods used against them, and if the coaches aren’t smart enough to figure out how to counter such strategies, they shouldn’t be given any help from the league.

  18. lemfaxx - Dec 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM


  19. lemfaxx - Dec 7, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    “Pop is always trying to do stuff to make sure our bench is performing” Parker
    “Stern is always trying to do stuff to make sure himself is performing” NBAnonymous

  20. paleihe - Dec 7, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    I’m 100% certain that if Cuban had Howard on his team, he’d be all for this.

    Personally, I can’t stand slow, boring basketball games. I don’t care who’s playing. If it’s a free throw contest, I’m not watching.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2376)
  2. K. Irving (1883)
  3. L. James (1755)
  4. K. Bryant (1638)
  5. A. Davis (1507)