Blog Entry

NBA: Got Soft?

Posted on: May 12, 2008 4:07 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2008 5:19 pm

I have never pretended to be a huge NBA fan.  I’m a Lakers fan by default (if my memory serves me correctly, the Dodgers and Lakers were on a continuous loop at my grandparents’ house), so I actually have many great Kareem/Magic/Worthy/Shaq/Kobe playoff memories.  But, I refuse to actually watch a whole game during the first half of the season. 

Do I watch the highlights?  Of course, but the only greater waste of time than sitting through an early-season NBA game (in a league that ends with half of the teams reaching the playoffs), is watching pre-season NFL games.  Naturally, following the results of every Spring Training game makes complete sense to me.

With that disclaimer, my jaw dropped yesterday when Ronny Turiaf was ejected from Game 4 of the Lakers-Jazz series after fouling Ronnie Price

I agree that it was a hard foul and due to Price’s botched landing/faceplant, I would even agree that it should be considered a Tech-1.  But a Tech-2 and an ejection?  I was stunned.  The refs even came to the conclusion after reviewing the play on the sidelines!  So, I have to ask the question, is the NBA getting too soft?

The thought first came to mind while reading Dan Patrick’s interview of Larry Bird in this last week’s Sports Illustrated.  Bird was asked to compare the physicality of the game when he played to today’s on-court product.  Bird said, "We had a no-layup rule. Just about everybody in the league did. Our regular-season games used to be rougher than our playoffs now, but the playoffs took it to a different level. Now when you get hit hard, you expect a flagrant."

Then, a few days ago I came across J.E. Skeets’ Ball Don’t Lie blog on Yahoo! and read his article about Bird losing it in a playoff game against the Pistons after Bill Laimbeer laid the smackdown on him.  After watching a true ejection-deserving technical, I could really see how much the game has changed.  A guy with a reputation of playing dirty slams arguably the best player in the game to the floor…just because he was trying to work the paint!  Can you imagine how many heads would roll if Boozer body-slammed Kobe?  How about ‘Sheed horse-collaring LeBron as he takes it to the rack?  How many season-long suspensions would that lead to?

Look, I understand that trying to injure another player has no place in the game, but it bothers me when common sense is overruled by public relations.  Yes, here I go again…it is my opinion that the NBAer’s recent history of off-court shenanigans/crimes against humanity has resulted in the contact-equates-to-a-foul version of the game we see today.

David Stern had to do something after countless run-ins with the law by his employees, right?  He had to salvage the product and the NBA’s reputation, right?  He had to create the public-relations-machine NBA Cares, right?  He had to make sure his top-tier stars kept the focus on the court, right?  So then isn’t it a natural step that no hard fouls would be tolerated?  And that – no matter what – players leaving the bench would lead to automatic suspensions? 

Well, I understand Stern’s business motivation, but was Turiaf getting tossed yesterday and Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw getting suspended in last year’s playoffs after Steve Nash got whacked by Robert Horry, really creating a better product on the court?  I really doubt it.  No, I think the real goal is to create the appearance that if Stern won’t accept rough play on the court, then he won’t accept it off the court.

Trust me, I wish I was wrong.  Unfortunately, the league’s image problems and its way-too-valuable-to-lose-to-injury stars have steered the game even further away from the NBA’s glory days of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. 

Is the game better off?  Nope.  Are the fans better off?  A good question.  Does anyone really care?  An even better question.

Baseball Jones ~~ Hustling since 1980



Since: Feb 23, 2008
Posted on: May 15, 2008 4:27 pm

NBA: Got Soft?

Hey guys, sorry for going offline for a few days...let me respond to your posts.

D-gregg, I can't argue with you not wanting to waste your time or money on basketball, but you can have compelling, athletic drama in any sport...even the most painful sport to watch on TV (aka HOCKEY) can be interesting at times.

HALOS, thanks for the shout. I agree with the big guy v. small guy thought. I'm not physicist, but we just knew that one was going to end badly.

Pappi, thanks for the comment.  You're right that the game will always be evolving.

Kay-Money, thanks for the link and the interesting view point.  I would agree that the overall talent and athleticism in the league now is way above what we saw in the '80s.  The main thing I noticed in the Bird/Laimbeer clip is that they look like a couple guys I just saw at the local rec center...was no one familiar with dumbbells or a curl bar back then?  I would love to see the man-child, LeBron James, call Dr. Brown and jump in a Delorean just so he could drop 50 pts a night and dunk on Laimbeer repeatedly. 

Fanz, let it rain?  Do you also mean to say, "Raindance!" and "Raindrops!"?

Rehban, I don't know if you saw that I was a Lakers fan or until the series is over, I will be giving no love to any Jazz player.  Recognize!  But, thanks for the comment.

Boom...out of here.

Baseball Jones

Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: May 12, 2008 6:38 pm

NBA: Got Soft?

Agreed with the quality blog post, but did anyone see Price come back in the game with that sick block on Gasol? I think that's a vote for redemption if not just a balls-on play.

Since: Feb 26, 2008
Posted on: May 12, 2008 5:01 pm

NBA: Got Soft?

Agreed. The foul calls appear to be more and more over the top as each season passes. However, I do not want to see the game return to the style of the 80s where fouls were frequently&nbs
p;vicious and premeditated. If that kind of play was still allowed, does anyone in their right mind believe that Labron would still be healthy enough to play in this second round? What would've stopped Eduardo Najera from giving Kobe a mid-air clothesline in order to halt his 48 point gunslinging barrage in round 1? Wouldn't the mentality turn to "Well, if we can't defeat them, then physically beat them!"?

With that said, is there also any question that if Shaq or Amare had physically taken a stand against Tony Parker in round 1 that the Suns would still be playing? I believe there can be a difference between a hard fould (Turiaf) and a maliciously intended foul (McHale v. Rambis). With emotions and stakes running high in the postseason it would definitely put the officials and the league in a tough position either way. I believe replay should be used league-wide and at-will if needed. There is no way NBA replay could possibly be as ridiculous as it is in the NFL, nor would David Stern allow it to be.

I pray that replay never sees its way into baseball except for on disputed homerun calls but for the NBA, let it rain!

Since: Oct 3, 2007
Posted on: May 12, 2008 4:54 pm

NBA: Got Soft?

You make a great point, I think the NBA has become soft over the years.  Times change, over the years the way the game is played has evolved.  Its a shame the NBA isn't what is was, the athletes are now not only watched on the court but they are closely watched off.  Now a players conduct on the court could be a reflection of his off-the-court conduct and and as commissioner of the NBA Stern wants to the image of his basketball to be of thugs playing ball.  I like the conclusions you came to, and hopefully one day the NBA will be what it once was.

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: May 12, 2008 4:40 pm

NBA: Got Soft?


Should he have been Tech-2'd? No way. Tech 1? Of course. I'd imagine the NBA's defense will be that the foul happened after the whistle. What's worse is the call on Sasha Vujacic. I didn't see it. As for this point?

Trust me, I wish I was wrong.  Unfortunately, the league’s image problems and its way-to-valuable-to-lose-to-injury stars have steered the game even further away from the NBA’s glory days of Larry Bird, Johnson and Michael Jordan. 

Is the game better off?  Nope.  Are the fans better off?  A good question.  Does anyone really care?  An even better question.

I like the tough play as much as the next, but I think we've sort of glorified the 80s-style of basketball a bit too much. Players like Lambier and Mahorn played rough because they were compensating for talent deficiencies. And we wouldn't be so in love with that style of play if we didn't have the Birds, Magics and Jordans of the world. The on-court thuggery doesn't really correlate to the Golden Age of basketball. People think of those great three before they think of the bad boy Pistons, it just happened the two styles of play happened in the same era.

I don't think it's in the best interest of basketball to have 6-10, 275-pound players throwing their bodies into other players -- but I don't think we should be kicking them out of games unless it was premeditated.

Solid bloggage, in case anybody missed it

Since: May 10, 2007
Posted on: May 12, 2008 4:40 pm

NBA: Got Soft?

Great take on the state of the NBA Jones.

In recent years the NBA and NFL have been seen as having a "thuggish" element associated with them, widely due to off-the-field/court issues. Both commissioners have taken stances to attempt to put the kibosh on this behavior, while at the same time trying to tame down games that have grown more and more popular because their physical nature.

To me, Ronny's foul wasn't that bad. An out-of-control smaller player was going hard to the hole and he ran into a larger, stronger player who was trying to block his shot.

Verdict: soft indeed.

Since: Apr 29, 2008
Posted on: May 12, 2008 4:34 pm

NBA: Got Soft?

The NBA is not even worth watching.

A game in which the refs are constantly stopping action is not even worth my time.  I'd rather watch a home impovement show (I'd actually learn something) than watch basketball.

The game of basketball is fun to play but to watch it on tv makes my stomach turn.  Its almost as bad (if not worse) than watching baseball.  yawn

I understand that fouling can hurt a player (rarely) but to call most of the fouls they call is lame.  It is basically a free throw shooting contest.

If it wasn't for rules like illegal defense (and yes I know what that means) games would be even more boring than they are now.  There is no flow to the play no back and forth except on that rare occasion when the ball seems to have been dipped in grease.

I don't waste my time or money on basketball.


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