Kevin Durant Comments on How to Beat 'Hack-a-Player' Strategy

Daniel Kramer@dkramer_Featured ColumnistDecember 21, 2015

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) pumps his fist in reaction to a foul call on Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) in the third quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Oklahoma City won 112-101. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant offered no condolences to professional ballers who struggle from the charity stripe—particularly if their opposition is sending them there intentionally.

With Durant's Thunder set to match up Monday night with the Los Angeles Clippers—whose DeAndre Jordan is a prime target in the hack-a strategy because of his 38.8 percent free-throw shooting—the 2013-14 MVP offered an NSFW reprimand to those opposing such tactics. Bleacher Report created a graphic with Durant's quote, collected by Royce Young of ESPN.com:

The Thunder haven't yet employed the hack-a strategy this season, but head coach Billy Donovan indicated they may debut it Monday, per Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman.

"We will discuss that," Donovan said. "When you start doing that, you gotta start looking at do you do it at the end of the first half, do you do it toward the end of the game? ... It'll be something we look at, talk about, discuss, but a lot of that will be dictated on our foul situation." 

The hack-a strategy is a tactic of intentionally committing fouls with the opportunity cost of sending poor shooters, which in most cases are big men, to the line. Such fouls often occur away from the ball.

Though long practiced, the hack-a strategy gained notoriety during the playing days of Shaquille O'Neal and even pushed the NBA to consider rules changes after it disrupted playoff games. 

The strategy continues today despite criticism that it ruins the flow of the game and is a cop-out. It's become a proverbial punchline, as shown by this example from theScore of San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan employing the hack-a strategy on Jordan:

theScore @theScore

VIDEO: Tim Duncan is too nice to 'Hack-a Jordan' - so he 'Hugs-a-Jordan' instead! https://t.co/lyBXsZqdPv https://t.co/NBxO9PqrN6

Even Duncan's head coach, Gregg Popovich, acknowledged he dislikes the strategy. But he also said that it's "part of the game," and he'll continue to employ it until it isn't, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com.

"I hate it," Popovich said in January 2014. "I think it's awful. I hate doing it. Seriously. I think it's a pain in the neck. Fans don't like it, I don't like it, nobody likes it. It disrupts the flow of the game. If there's an equitable way to get rid of it, I'm all for it."

Durant, a career 88.1 percent free-throw shooter, doesn't buy the notion that the strategy is unfair, and he has a point. Free throws should translate into free points. As Durant said, the victims of the hack-a strategy could render it moot by making their shots from the charity stripe.


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