Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Fans Love the "No Backtalk" Rule Now
Who wants to see all that whining, when they pay to see basketball? Dave from Blazers Edge loves the idea of less complaining to referees, but has his doubts about how it will pan out over time:
First, nothing's been done to change the NBA star system. Favoritism is still alive and well. The refs will have no compunction about tossing coaches and second string point guards, but they're not going to toss the guy whose jerseys sell out in the concourse at $115 a pop. It won't take long for the big names to realize this. And if you think they're going to remain silent just to keep the appearance of fairness I've got some Braniff Airline stock to sell you. You're going to end up with a lot of guys in Portland, Seattle, Toronto, and Utah uniforms getting teed and tossed while the KGs, Kobes, Shaqs, and Wades say whatever they wish. Opposing crowds will lift irate cries for justice-bearing technicals that never come. Eventually the whole thing will be viewed as a mockery that cements the league's image problem instead of solving it.Good points all around Dave, but in the spirit of "eighteen wrongs don't make a right" I also can't see the league throwing its hands in the air and doing nothing simply because some referees are jerks or the way games have been called has always tilted in favor of stars. No, there's not going to be a perfect solution, especially in the short term. But sometimes doing your half-assed best to make the game better for the fans is worth it.
Second, they don't often put microphones on refs but when they do it becomes evident that many disruptions are at least escalated, if not caused outright, by the referees themselves. They jaw at the players and coaches, occasionally use offensive language, and generally engage in banter that wouldn't be considered stylish at the company Christmas party. It's not every ref or every situation, but it's enough that you notice. This ruling puts far more power in the officials' hands. The criteria for offense are both nebulous and slight.
It could be part of a mini, in-game, cultural evolution. If the majority of players don't complain the majority of the time, Mark Cuban starts looking crazier and crazier on the sidelines. Now he's often joining a chorus. But eventually he might be all alone. (Dirk Nowitzki has already asked him to tone down his public complaining.)
And, I'm sure that everyone once in a while, just for good measure, superstars will get tossed. They have in the past, and they will in the future.