An NBA Executive Says ‘There’s Not Enough Support To Change’ The Intentional Foul Rule

We’re chuckling to ourselves about this. It’s like the #HoopIdea to do away with flopping, as if a possible $5K (or larger) fine was going to prevent players from any on-court edge they can grasp.

Now that everyone has taken a couple foul-heavy Clippers-Rockets games and used them to extrapolate all sorts of nonsense about intentional fouling ruining the NBA, it was brought up at the annual meetings between NBA general managers on Wednesday. And when the data was presented, everyone realized how grossly out of proportion it has become.

“There is not enough support to change it,” an NBA executive at the meeting tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. “It’s one of those perception is bigger than reality issues.”

While it’s over simplifying a rather complicated matter, another executive wasn’t wrong when he claimed, “It’s part of the game. You need to make your free throws.”

We tend to side with those in opposition to changing the rule almost precisely for that reason. A player’s inability to make free throws isn’t much different than any other individual weakness, and shouldn’t be treated as such. For as many changes as the league has made throughout its history to appease a growing fan base, none have compromised the integrity of basketball quite like this one would.

During his year-end press conference, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he feels the same way. Via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News:

“There will be a lot of discussion about the fouling, as there should be. But principle-wise, I fee’ really strongly that it’s a tactic that can be used. If someone can’t shoot free throws, that’s their problem. As I’ve said before, if we’re not allowed to do something to take advantage of a team’s weakness, a trade should be made before each game. ‘We won’t foul your guy, but you promise not to block any of our shots.’ Or, ‘We won’t foul your guy, and you allow us to shoot all uncontested shots.’


“I tend to side on the principle side where it’s basketball, and if we have a guy who can’t shoot and it’s an important part of the game, I should probably get him off the court.”

Data presented to executives at yesterday’s meeting no doubt further cements the belief of those who share that one, and could even sway some decision-makers whose opinion isn’t quite so ironclad either way.

According to Berger, the league’s report found that a whopping 76 percent of the intentional fouls this season have been levied against five players: DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Joey Dorsey, and Andre Drummond. The “problem,” basically, isn’t nearly as widespread as national television broadcasts and the playoffs have made it seem.

The NBA is a fan’s game, and the groundswell of support from league supporters to change the rule has obviously put additional pressure on the competition committee. But it’s the Board of Governors that will be making the final decision here. Will it feel comfortable so openly flaunting one of basketball’s flagship principles to appease fans?

We were always dubious that would prove the case, and are even more so after learning of the league’s findings and executives’ reception to them. Sorry, folks. It looks like Hack-A-Shaq is here to stay.

[h/t CBS Sports] [San Antonio Express-News]