Why NBA Needs to Address the Pace of Games

Eric GuyCorrespondent IIIJune 8, 2013

MIAMI, FL - MAY 24: Head coach Erik Spoelstra (R) and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat talk with referee Joey Crawford against the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2011 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. LeBron James NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

At times, NBA games can be hard to watch. In every game, ridiculously bizarre situations occur, turning five minutes of game time into 20 of the longest, most exasperating minutes of your night.

In order to preserve the reputation of the game, it is vital that the league addresses the pace of the contests.

By way of theatrics from officials, coaches and players, the lethargic flow of games is tainting not only the entertainment value for fans, but the game of basketball as a whole.

When you think about it, all parties are equally at fault.

It is commonplace for individuals to present officiating as a major contributor to the problem. Such criticism is warranted. The decision-making of officials in NBA games has widely assisted in the sluggish pace of games.

Now, one would immediately think that the number of fouls called during games would be an enormous amount. However, it is actually quite the opposite.

According to basketball-reference.com, teams committed an average of only 19.8 fouls per game during the 2012-13. What is even more astonishing, the two most recent seasons accounted for the two lowest averages in NBA history.


Based on the aforementioned statistics alone, one would probably be quick to conclude that the whistles of referees do not contribute to the game’s ever-dwindling pace.

However, we know that is not the case.

Every game, countless calls require a stoppage of play for the officiating crew to determine whether or not a call—or lack thereof—was the right decision.

Oftentimes, personal, technical and flagrant fouls are dished out by officials in situations where they are not necessary. Moreover, not only do such calls prolong the game, they can ultimately be a key factor in who gains control.

Such was the case in the L.A. Clippers' and Memphis Grizzlies’ Game 6 matchup in the first round when referee Joe Crawford went on a power trip, dishing seven technical fouls and two ejections. In the end, the Grizzlies had an overwhelming 23-free-throw advantage in the game.

Imagine how long that took.

Recall Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals when LeBron James was called for an offensive foul at a pivotal point in the fourth quarter. Outraged by the call, LeBron sprinted down the court in frustration. As a result of his actions, LeBron was hit with a costly technical foul.

Such situations are completely unnecessary.

While the officials definitely deserve their fair share, the actions of players and coaches cannot be ignored.

How often have we seen coaches recycle the strategic “Hack-a-Shaq” technique throughout games?

Intentionally fouling the team’s weakest foul shooter over and over again not only wastes time, but it is just plain silly.

While the league instituted a rule that prohibits the tactic from being used in the last two minutes of a game, teams can still use it to their liking throughout the first 46 minutes.

Many, including former coach Phil Jackson, agree that intentional fouling is a detriment to the overall presentation of the game.

While intentional fouling remains to be an impediment to the pace of games, players’ tactical use of flopping serves as a hindrance as well.

Prior to the start of the 2012-13 regular season, commissioner David Stern implemented a set of fines players would have to pay if they violated the rules.

The penalties dished out were so insignificant that the NBA had to devise “tougher” consequences for the playoffs.

Sadly, nothing has changed.

Throughout the 2013 NBA postseason, the “Broadway show” that is flopping has made multiple appearances in every game.

Who can forget the infamous, Oscar-worthy performance Tony Allen put forth in San Antonio that led to four Memphis points to send the game into overtime?

Flopping has become so big of an issue that even Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is searching for ways to do away with it.

Without a doubt, we are all sick of it.

The NBA has to make efforts to combat acts that are detrimental to the pace of games. The theatrics from officials, coaches and players have to cease for fans deserve to see a game free from the time-wasting dramatics that have been oh so prevalent.

The focus should be on basketball and nothing else.