The NBA’s supposedly cleaned up image may please David Stern and his constituents. Nevertheless, this basketball fan is really tired of the faux-family friendly approach that’s hit the league for more than a few years. E-high fives all around if you’re with me. However, I’ll spare you all a full-on rant and hone in on just one aspect which really bothers me: techs for stare downs.
Maybe I’m alone on this one but I don’t get how a brief taunt warrants such a stiff penalty. The vast majority of stare downs don’t lead to necessary game delays, fists flying or benches clearing out. They’re just emasculating moments in time where one athlete’s claims athletic superiority over another. Then the ball gets inbounded and the game continues. Don’t see the problem? Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist.
Why give something so innocuous so much power? Calling techs on stare downs isn’t just annoying. It messes up the flow of the game in close matchups. Check the following tech from Sunday’s game on Iman Shumpert after he caught KG matadoring. The refs called the game unnecessarily tight afterwards making an otherwise enjoyable, close game more aggravating. And for what, to teach viewers a trifling lesson on right from wrong on the hardwood? Cue Iman’s reaction 25 ticks in.
I rather let get good guys and jerks by nature play ball how they see fit and deal with the benefits and setbacks to either style. We should be here to watch basketball at the highest level after all; not get forced morality lessons. Besides, if we’re all about teaching lessons now, why does the B.S. “fair play” standard take precedent over the nasty results of poor defensive positioning, weak attempts at the rim and late rotation? The latter has a concrete premise with real consequences: easy points given up on top a potential momentum shift and instant embarrassment. Those are things basketball players on every level want to avoid. Yet, it’s more important to protect each others feelings and the “integrity” of the game? Whatever.
Millionaire ball players carrying on isn’t always my cup of tea, but a little provocation doesn’t hurt anything in the grand scheme. Stare downs are on the same plane as trash talking when it comes to less-than-nice matters on the court but they’re a part of sports in general. The NBA is only fooling itself if it thinks sterilizing its product in this manner makes it better.
The Association is also instantly forgetting how stare downs took shape in some of the most pivotal plays in the game’s history. Classic moments like Jordan dunking on Ewing in the ’91 Playoffs, Charles Barkley putting fear in a grown man’s eyes and Shawn Kemp summing Alton Lister’s career in one play, wouldn’t be as special if not for the extra insult added on top. All the parties moved on after the dust cleared, even in the NBA’s more physical days, and the showdowns became more exciting to watch. Now we have to diffuse every instance of pride just to prove a consistently stupid point. Just let these fools play and have them and their teams, not the game as a whole, pay the consequences for being on the wrong side of great plays.