The landscape of the NBA would be much different without the likes of Vlade Divac opening the door for European talent to walk through. For that, we should all be grateful to him. We may never have seen the likes of Manu Ginobili or Toni Kukoc in an NBA uniform.
However, more foreign-born players are not all that the Yugoslavian seven-footer brought to the pro game. He also mastered the flop as well as the "did I do that?" shoulder shrug.
He passed this technique on to Chris Weber in Sacramento while the two played together for the Kings, and it spread through the league like wildfire.
In fact, players have overused the innocent act so much that NBA league officials have had to implement a new rule outlawing excessive argumentative behavior or arguing calls of any kind, for that matter. The rule is to be enforced by referees issuing technical fouls to players who can't control their outbursts.
The referees have already begun enforcing the rule in the 2010 NBA preseason, and targeted players haven't kept their whining to the confines of the court.
Players have become so accustomed to talking through temper tantrums that they are whining off the court about the trouble they're getting into for whining on the court.
Whether the rule is too tough on the grown men making millions who act like children is another debate, The purpose of this piece is to merely highlight the players and teams most likely to be burdened by ball-busting referees, should the league's steadfast stance on stifling stir-ups stand.
The Orlando Magic's All-Star center, Dwight Howard, is becoming known for more than just his freakishly athletic play. These days, he seems to be making a lot of noise in the direction of referees.
Granted, he has a legitimate beef more often than not, teams know that they can get under his skin by creating contact with the seven footer and drawing sometimes unwarranted foul calls.
Howard will need to keep his emotions in check this season, or it could cost his team some wins. If Howard gets T-ed up too many times, he'll have to miss some games due to suspension.
The Magic's opponents have already been coming after him, and now with the league tying player's hands in pleading their cases, you can bet that he'll see even more aggression shown his way.
If Howard can't get his emotions in check, he'll be stuck on the bench while his team needs him on the floor.
I'm not sure that this will be a huge problem, since Howard has apparently been working all offseason on changing his attitude. Still, there are sure to be some growing pains before he's acclimated to the new rule.
Last year, Kobe Bryant was just one technical foul away from being suspended for going over the league limit on technicals.
He is one of the game's top players, and the distinction plus his ability to get to the basket has gotten him to the free throw line more than most players. The star-driven NBA has always favored their stars, and Kobe Bryant is one of its brightest.
This, compounded with his competitive nature, leads Kobe to raise a fuss when a call he thinks that he should have gotten doesn't go his way.
This is now a big no-no under the league's new statute. Add to that point guard Derek Fisher's NBA acting degree, and the Lakers will have their work cut out for them this year in regard to the league's new zero-tolerance policy for arguing with officials.
The Lakers are this year's front-runners to win another NBA championship. The team is very disciplined in their play, but now they'll have to be more disciplined with their outbursts if they want their starters to start every night.
LeBron isn't often whistled for pleading his case with the referees and is even less often associated in mainstream media with the complainer culture of the NBA, but being a native of Akron, Ohio, myself, believe me when I say that he is one of the more argumentative players in the league.
I'm not trying to discount his talent at all. James is one of the best players in the NBA, but he does have a tendency to disagree with the referees and become very animated more often than not when a whistle is blown in his direction.
One of the points of emphasis in the language of the new rule is a player throwing his hands up at the refs after a foul is called. Also, looming over the referees is no longer allowed.
James is not a problem child in any sense of the word. He's the face of the league right now, and with good reason. He just needs to get this one quirk out of his system and accept the ruling of the referees when a foul is called.
He'll just need to learn to turn the other cheek when a foul is called on him. Getting the hang of walking away from referees in front of fans shouldn't be a problem, especially given how easily he was able to walk away from the city of Cleveland in his nationwide ESPN special.
The Boston Celtics were one of the NBA's leading teams in the technical foul department. Celtics center Kendrick Perkins was among the league's top individuals in the category, as was power forward Rasheed Wallace.
The Celtics' starting power forward, Kevin Garnett, is widely regarded as one of the league's biggest crybabies and dirtiest players.
The team has let go of Wallace, but the other two big men are still there. Garnett has already been ejected in the first half from a preseason game this year. The new rule is designed to target players like Garnett.
He loves to talk trash to players when his team is losing, and he can't stand to have anything not go his way. He gets in the faces of officials and has on occasion thrown out a cheap shot or two when things aren't going his way.
These playground antics are even beginning to rub off on the team's young point guard, Rajon Rondo. Rondo was penalized for more technical fouls last year than any other year of his career.
The Celtics will need to retool their attitude if they want to keep everyone on the floor in the 2010-2011 season.
Tim Duncan is one greatest power forwards ever to play in the NBA. The power forward position is a very physical position to play on the basketball court, so how is it possible for someone to play the position for as many years as Duncan has without ever committing a foul?
Every time a whistle is blown against him, he makes the surprised face in this picture, throws his hands up, and hunts down the referee who blew the whistle to question in amazement the call that was just made. Duncan may finally be forced to shut his mouth and play basketball now because of this rule.
Duncan isn't the only Spur to take the low road when it comes to arguing with the officials. Spurs point guard, Tony Parker, has been studying at the "Tim Duncan school for the miffed" as well. Parker is routinely surprised any time a referee brashly accuses him of committing any type of foul.
On top of that, the Spurs have one of the best floppers in the league in Manu Ginobili. Even the slightest contact sends him launching into the stands or the goalpost.
Ginobili has been one of the most underrated players in the league, and again, I am not intending to take anything away from the talent of the players in this article. The new rule will either take away some of the Spurs' thunder or force them to focus on playing basketball for 48 minutes.
There has been a lot of speculation as to just how calling so many technical fouls will affect the 2010-2011 NBA season. Detractors of the rule say that it's unjust to have fans pay all the money that they shell out to attend a game only to see their favorite players sitting on the bench in crunch time, while supporters of the rule have other theories.
Personally, I think the rule is great for the league. I'd much rather see the star players playing basketball instead of standing around arguing with the refs every time a whistle blows. All of the bickering slows down the game and sets a bad example for kids who may be watching the sport.
All of our lives, we're taught to practice things like honesty, accountability, and sportsmanship. Are these things only important on a person's way to the top? Is it then okay to abandon these values once one is paid a certain amount of money?
The NBA is the most elite basketball league in the world, and these professionals of the highest caliber have been allowed to run around acting like elementary school children when things don't go their way for years. If these men were working in nearly any other field, this type of behavior would never be tolerated.
If a few All-Stars have to sit out a few games in the first few months of the season for the childish culture of the NBA to be corrected, then I'm all for it.
Players should be held accountable for their actions, no matter how "important" the player or how much is on the line. Hopefully, the rule change will get the NBA's elite to once again act like they've been there before.