Centers' Little Helper

Dennis Hans, unrenowned former adjunct professor of mass comm and American foreign policy, relentlessly exposed the Bush administration’s “techniques of deceit” BEFORE the Iraq war, when it could have made a difference (see links). For decades he has fought baseball’s discrimination against lefthanded infielders and promoted his ingenious clockwise solution. A lifelong advocate for a flowing, non-brutal, flop-free NBA, he now champions the cause of its second-class citizens: the centers.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How to get pump-fake calls right
Steve Kerr was about to make a valid criticism of current NBA officiating during Wednesday’s game when he got sidetracked. Raja Bell had just pump-faked, getting Jerry Stackhouse to jump to the right of Bell in an attempt to block or bother the shot while avoiding contact with the shooter. Bell, seeing that Stackhouse was about to fly past him, leaned a couple feet to his right to create a collision, then heaved up a prayer. The whistle blew. Foul on Stackhouse.

I believe Kerr was going to say something like “This is absurd.” If he was, he’s right. Since when did it become a foul for a defender to leave his feet? That’s how you make plays! Today’s refs don’t exercise near enough judgment. On these pump-fake situations, the rule should protect active defenders who aren’t invading the shooter’s space, which should consist of the shooter’s starting place and perhaps the area one-to-three feet DIRECTLY in front of him, depending on the situation.

Guys shooting treys are generally going to jump toward the basket, coming down 2 or 3 feet closer to the hoop from where they rose up. If you’re 14 feet from the hoop and you get the defender off his feet, you should be entitled to your takeoff place and maybe a foot directly in front of you. But if you lean left or right or take an unnaturally long step toward the hoop to cause contact that otherwise wouldn’t occur, that should never be a defensive foul.

We need to return to thinking of the pump-fake as a tool to turn a contested shot into an uncontested one: you get the guy off his feet, pause, then rise up for your shot while he’s descending. It’s only a foul if the defender jumps into space that a reasonable person would consider to be the natural jumping area for that particular shot. We need to get away from the mindset that you’re entitled to two shots merely for getting the guy off his feet, irrespective of the space the defender is jumping into.


At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey Dennis,
I enjoyed reading your essays on Shaq's FT mechanics and came back to read your blog. You seriously need to get off Raja's case. Citing him for everything you don't like about the way the game is played.
1. The FLOP :
Why don't you use the classic example for a flopper in the NBA - Ginobili. Without doubt, he is the expert at it and even gets away with calls in his favor, by flopping. Raja's flopping was something Kobe forced him to do because Raja had no other way of getting the refs to notice that Kobe was throwing repeated elbows while trying to get rid of Raja. You just need to watch some of the plays in slow-mo to see how Kobe throws the ball to the ground and uses the small time window before next touching the ball to throw a powerful elbow at Raja's face.
You do know he was bruised and was bleeding from the swipes right.
When he tried to let the refs know, Phil Jackson told him "you f'in deserved it" and asked the refs not give him the calls.
You turning a blind eye to the situation that caused Bell to start flopping?
And why don't you write an article on Kobe's elbowing? Clearly, thats not a very nice aspect of offense, is it?

2.Citing Raja for pump fakes to draw fouls? He did once or maybe twice max. And the fakes he made and his following shot attempts were more legit looking than Cassell's fakes in the WC SF this year. Throughout the series, Cassell would pump fake, draw the defender to jump and initiate contact with the defender through his shoulder. At the end of this he would barely manage to get the ball off but got shooting fouls called on the defender.
He was the beneficiary of numerous such calls in the Clippers vs Suns series.

You should probably choose examples that are more representative of the rule/play you're discussing. And commentary that is neutral and not completely pro-stars/Lakers would , in my opinion better solidify your position as a true connoisseur of the game.
c p a w at myway dot com

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Dennis Hans said...

thanks, Madhu.

I agree with you on Manu and Cassell. I used Raja to illustrate the pump-fake-calls problem not out of anti-Raja bias but because it was convenient and I thought Kerr was about to say what I would have said. (Funny thing, in a column a week or so after, dimwit Kerr said the opposite, praising somebody for an unnatural sideways jump to draw a foul on a defender who, in my view, did nothing wrong.

Raja routinely draped himself over Kobe, so that any abrupt movement by Kobe in any direction would generate a no-resistance stagger from trickmeister Raja. He's not the only defensive clown, but he's definitely one of them.

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