Tainted Research: Is the NBA's New Policy on Technicals Going Overboard?

Steven ResnickSenior Writer ISeptember 24, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 15:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics talks with referee Joe DeRosa while taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Six of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NBA has decided to cut down on overt gesture even though these gestures may not be directed at an official. According to Brian Mahoney's article, "NBA Will Whistle More Techs for 'Overt' Gestures."

Mahoney quotes Stu Jackson for the reason why “our fan research shows that people think NBA players complain too much and they do so much more than players in other leagues. But that aside, in reviewing our games, what we have observed is an excessive amount of complaining to referees’ calls or non-calls.”

Further down in the article Mahoney quotes Jackson again: “The best mindset for everyone to take in a player’s mind is really abstinence, and that is to not complain." 

The problem is that while fan research may show that NBA players complain too much, more so than any professional league, it doesn't explain the reason why. There are no follow-up questions that were quoted in the article on why fans believe that NBA players complain the most. 

Jackson hits the nail on the head though that there's obviously been complaining about calls and non-calls over the past few years, yet the NBA has done nothing to solve the problem. Instead of delving in deep, finding out the source of the problem, the NBA has taken a band-aid approach to trying to fix the complaining.


Will these policies set forth by the NBA work for the players by calling more technical fouls? The answer is no because the real source of the problem hasn't been fixed. It's important to notate what is now considered a technical foul regardless of whether the action is not directed at a referee or not. 

Again according to Mahoney's article this is the list according to Jackson of what constitutes a technical:

  • Waving off an official as a sign of disrespect
  • Running up to an official from across the court
  • Waving arms in disbelief, or jumping up and down in disbelief
  • Clapping sarcastically at an official

Although the rules make sense and these should be technicals, the main point to the entire article wasn't about players running at an official from across the court, waving their arms in disbelief, or even clapping sarcastically. 

The main focus was on a player being frustrated not at an official but at himself for missing a shot and basically punching the air. That is now a technical according to the new rules and it shouldn't be. 


Finally Jackson's last quote though from the article is laughable: "Player complaining is not really needed in our game and has no place in the game."

The question that comes to mind after reading that quote is, where has Jackson been the last few years? The NBA referees are the worst kind of officials in all of professional sports. It's not to say that the others are perfect either because there's complaining in those sports as well. It's just that the officials in those sports are so much better than what the NBA puts out.

The NBA referees are incompetent, there's no question about that. There are referees who call fouls because they believe contact may happen, referees that will not call traveling, referees that give superstars preferential treatment, ones that have short fuses, ones that have long fuses or who have personal vendettas against players and coaches, and there are referees that have influenced outcomes of games...

A huge problem in the NBA is its referees and they are the main reasons why there's so much complaining. When someone isn't doing their job well these players are supposed to keep their mouths shut. 

Sure, the NBA would love to have fans believe that each game these referees are evaluated on their performances. If that truly were the case then Joey Crawford and Dick Bavetta would have been fired a long time ago. 

Last year the NBA tried so hard to bring back the referees who nearly went on strike to start the season. In the absence of the NBA refs, replacement refs from the D-League and college ranks were officiating games.

Sure, there were more complaints and more foul calls. The thing was though, these referees didn't have any bias out on the court if a player committed a foul then the whistle blew, if an offensive player was in the key for three seconds it was called, if there was a travel the whistle blew, etc.

Of course some of the players didn't like how the replacement referees called the game; the players weren't getting away with what the NBA refs allowed.

There are still plays that stick with fans, such as Derek Fisher grabbing Monta Ellis in the closing seconds of a game and the rule that should have been applied was two shots for Ellis and the Warriors get the ball because Fisher committed the foul before the ball was inbounded, instead Ellis was called for an offensive foul.

In the 2008 playoffs Keyon Dooling got a foul call on the Detroit Pistons even though the only contact on the play was him running into his own teammate while attempting a shot.

Last year in Portland Jerryd Bayless was called for a foul on Devin Harris. The referee was anticipating contact between Bayless and Harris, but instead of being run into by Bayless, Harris spun in the air and shot the ball up, yet Bayless didn't even come close to making contact with Harris.  

So, if the NBA truly wants to get rid of players complaining then the obvious answer is in front of them: bring in new referees because the ones right now are failures. Giving players more technicals for complaining isn't going to fix the incompetence of the NBA referees!