NBA's New "Respect For The Game" Rule Threatens to Water Down Entire League

Harrison MooreAnalyst IIOctober 15, 2010

BOSTON - JUNE 10:  Referee Scott Foster talks to Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Four of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 10, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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

Its officially happened.

The NBA has turned into a public relations campaign.  In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, let me fill you in: the NBA decided to implement “respect for the game” rule which essentially will allow and/or require referees to call technical fouls for any and all players’ reactions to their calls.

Some have said that this is the NBA’s attempt to cover up inept officiating. Others have said that this is a long overdue makeover the NBA needs.

I say it’s a pathetic, overtly self-conscious ploy to make the NBA something it’s not: a league of passionless milquetoasts who would sooner bottle up their resentment of a blown call than offend anyone.

Sounds more like a tea party than a basketball game.

Yes David Stern, we know why you’re doing this. You’ve been feeling the heat since LeBron James fell out of favor with the majority of the sports world and without James to lean upon as “the next Jordan” or your league’s “golden boy” you’re panicky.

Other leagues get away with blown calls (Armando Galarraga, anyone?) and no one bats an eye, but if Kobe Bryant is fouled by anything less than a shotgun blast to the face then he’s getting the “superstar treatment”. Yes, its stupid and screwed up but this isn’t the way you deal with it.

The NBA is turning into the mom whose worried what her friends at the book club might think once they discover her son dumped his old girlfriend, got a hotter one and decided to start wearing leather jackets and riding motorcycles.

I've been a fan of NBA basketball since before my adolescence and one of the main things I've always admired about the league is how representative it is of everyday life.

Some teams don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell next season or the season after and they know it. The teams that do will do anything they can to win. Most of the great players without great teams will do everything in their power to land themselves in a position to win titles and earn money.

How is any of this not representative of the way the world is?

As far as the "respect for the game" rule itself, ask yourself this: if your supervisor falsely accuses you of missing an assignment would you not argue back? How is that principle different from the life of an NBA player?

Look, I get it. If a player is getting too animated after a call, blown or not, he can be a disruption to the game and a distraction to the ref and that isn’t fair to the other players. That’s why referees were armed with technical fouls in the first place.

So why increase the amount of times refs call technical fouls when you already have rules in place to ensure that technicals aren’t taken lightly? 16 technical fouls over the course of an 82 game season gets you a one game suspension and in the post-season it only takes seven technical fouls to get you suspended for a game. Seven, just seven.

Sure that sounds like a lot, but given that refs have a history of giving people techs for things like this ( and this ( you can understand why I’m so repulsed by the idea of encouraging/empowering refs to call more technicals.

Guys like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Ron Artest and to a lesser extent, even guys like Al Harrington, Glen Davis and Manu Ginobili are all known for their intensity and asking them to turn off their emotions at the drop of the dime is asking them to turn off the very traits that endear them to their respective fan bases.

I didn’t major in economics, but I just don’t see how that’s good business.