Technical Difficulty: After Paul Pierce Ejection, the NBA Needs to Adapt Rules
When Paul Peirce received his second technical foul, referee Ed Malloy tossed him from the game emphatically like an umpire does an angry manager.
The problem is me and the millions of other Sunday afternoon viewers were not watching the highly-anticipated Boston/Miami series to see Malloy make calls.
The fans come out and we tune in to see Paul Pierce play.
This is big business. The NBA needs its superstars (its best product) to be on the court shining at this time of year.
The NBA Playoffs represent the highest level of basketball being played in the world.
It should create a greater level of intensity. Both the emotions and the stakes are high. Things are bound to be a little more "chippiness" between the teams in these games.
It might very well be time that the league revisit the technical foul rule in order to avoid technical difficulty deciding the outcome of important games or series instead of the players.
Here are some things the NBA should consider…
In the Playoffs, the Double Technical Foul Situations Should Not Be so Costly.
You know how it goes, something like: Player A makes a hard move to the basket. Player B whacks him with a hard “playoff” foul. Player A gets up and bumps Player B and warns him that he better watch that (expletive!).
Player B says (expletive you!) and tries to come back but teammates and officials are on the scene. A momentary little extra curricular activity breaks out.
The ref breaks the whole thing up with a series of whistles and assesses a double technical on A and B—then play resumes.
Because that trophy is on the line this time of year, that type of scenario is likely to happen more in the playoffs than in the regular season.
Those intense rivalries is what makes playoff basketball so great to watch. It makes the games and series more interesting.
If something like the situation above happens twice, as one could argue was exactly the case with Paul Pierce, then the player is kicked out of the game?
That is not really fair! It is not good for the game either.
Technically speaking, (no pun intended) Pierce was the victim of fouls on BOTH plays he received his T’s. His reaction to being fouled hard should by no means lead to him being ejected from a playoff game.
I understand that rules are rules—but for the NBA, that rule is just plain bad for business.
Personal T's and Those Given in a Double Technical Should Be Deemed Different
The purpose of the double technical is used basically to calm the game down.
The score remains the same after a double T. Suffice to say it is as much of a warning to both teams collectively to settle down as it is a problem with an individual player.
Announcers often refer to the double techs as the referee “gaining control” of the game—or not letting things get out of hand.
And it is. In some ways, it could almost be seem as a team infraction as much as it is an individual foul. More of a game technical foul than a personal one.
It is almost like the extra pushing and shoving that takes place early in playoff football games. Where there are no penalties assessed unless someone is really going overboard. Usually the officials understand that the guys are worked up and a little extra aggressive in the big games. Its natural.
In the NBA Playoffs—it might make sense to start distinguishing between the types of technical fouls.
The playoff rule should go something like this: Personal technical fouls are called when a player gets too far out of line, shows up a ref or slams the ball, etc. If you receive two of those infractions and you are immediately ejected no questions asked.
But a technical foul received as part of a double tech should not necessarily count towards a player ejection. That can be open for the refs judgement. If a guy is too far out of line and his actions are dangerous or reckless—then toss him.
But if it is something as harmless as Player A was involved in a little skirmish during the first few minutes of a playoff game and in a double technical foul situation—then that should not count as a personal technical foul.
He should not instantly be at immediate risk to be tossed from a game just because of that.
Later that night if an emotional Player A slams the ball in disgust, or gets clobbered and jumps up furious because he thought a guy tried to hurt him and gets involved in another technical—he should NOT be thrown out of an intense game for that.
Nobody wants to see that. We want these player to play balls out in the playoffs. No one should have to worry that he could be ejected because he is a little over zealous and hyped up!
How can we not expect these guys to play with with their emotions on their sleeves? They are playing for a place in history!
In the playoffs only, situations when a player loses control individually should be treated differently than the technicals received in a double tech situation.
(Just to continue with this rule change theory: The next time you were whistled for any kind of technical foul, third strike, you are out. Team or individual.
Plus the zebra's will always still have the ultimate say. If they determine that Player A's behavior warrants an ejection at the time of any infraction—they can toss him on the spot. Malloy style.
But a more flexible rule will ensure they avoid a situation like Heat/Celtics Game 1 when the rule says that you MUST eject a guy who probably did not deserve to be ejected.
That is a situation the league should fix right away.
What if Sunday was a Game 7 and that happened to Pierce—how much of a let down would that be?
Rules are made for revision...
Lastly, in the case of Pierce this past weekend—that seemed to be a case of inexperience from the officiating staff.
Malloy did not have to toss the guy as if he threw a punch!
The ref has to have use more discretion. These games are for all the marbles.
Experience refs should now how to correct things even after making the wrong call.
They can get into a huddle with the other zebras, talk to the table for a minute to play it off and then conclude that Pierce was instead given a “delay of game warning” and therefore not disqualified from the basketball game.
Sure, a rain of boo's would have come from the sold out Miami crowd. The Heat bench would have been in an uproar about it—but only for a brief moment.
At the end of the day, everyone involved would be glad that Boston wins or loses a playoff game at full strength. That is what truly matters.
I hope NBA commissioner David Stern took the time to remind the officials that we would all like to have the best players on the floor deciding what team will be crowned champion.
Perhaps it would help refs do their job if a player ejection is certainly optional—but not necessarily mandatory (or encouraged).
What are your thoughts?