- Henry Abbott, TrueHoop, NBA
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You could fill the Meadowlands -- the whole swamp, not just the comparably tiny stadium -- with people who were just certain the NBA's crackdown on complaining was entirely crackpot. And they -- we, I guess -- may yet be proved correct.
But David Stern said the players would adjust and the game would be better for it. And TrueHoop reader Eric, a Nuggets fan, has a tale of such a thing happening on at least one play. He writes:
With about 11 minutes left in the second quarter against the Mavericks Wednesday night, J.R. Smith drove wildly down the lane, tried to draw contact and threw up a terrible shot attempt.
Prior experience as a Nuggets fan tells me that there are three possible outcomes when that happens:
J.R.'s athleticism and natural ability cause the ball to go into the hoop and its rather miraculous.
There is no call on the play, the defense rebounds the shot.
J.R. is furious there is no call, the shot doesn't go in, he complains, the other team gets an easy layup on the other end and JR never crosses half court while throwing a fit of incredulity that the officials could have missed such an obvious call (this scenario may also include a technical foul on JR and causes George Karl to age in dog years).
In this instance, J.R. pretty clearly thought he was fouled, but it wasn't obvious that the refs had blown a call and J.R. was pretty clearly out of control, so I can't complain about the referees' decision.
This time, however, something astounding happened; J.R. started to do his "how is that not a foul" dance but stopped because he realized he was going to get a T.
On TV, you could see his thought process and the exact moment he realized that his "how is that not a foul" dance was going to hurt the team (and probably get him benched in short order). So that counts as plus-1 point for the new rule.
But that isn't the best (or even most important) part of the new rule's impact. Instead of acting like an unhappy fool and complaining about a debatable call, J.R. sprinted back on defense (in a manner even David Thorpe would be proud of), deflected a pass under the Dallas basket, grabbed the ball as he was falling out of bounds and threw it off of a Dallas player to get the ball back for Denver.
It was a play that only a few players in the league have the speed, athleticism and desire to make. But without the new techincal rule, that play never happens because J.R. is busy pouting and complaining 94 feet from the action.
I'm not ready to proclaim J.R. a reformed player who will now forever hustle back on defense all the time or forego complaining about calls in the future. But for one possession, boundaries and rules restricted what J.R. did and put him in a position to use his unique skill set to make a unique play.
I don't have much of an opinion in general about the new technical rules, but, as is usually the case with any major change of law or rules in just about any context, the unintended consequences are usually the ones that have the biggest impact. And in this case, basketball fans got to see one of the most athletic and exciting players in the league put aside his mercurial nature for four seconds and do something that only 25 or so people on the planet are capable of accomplishing.
So thanks, Mr. Stern, your rabid appetite for control has created new opporutnities for creativity and "amazing" to flourish.
You could fill the Meadowlands -- the whole swamp, not just the comparably tiny stadium -- with people who were just certain the NBA's crackdown on complaining was entirely crackpot.