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.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Suspension solutions
Jerry Stackhouse is suspended for Sunday’s pivotal Game 5 for an intentional hard foul on Shaq. The big problem is that the play made by Stack — deliberately shoving/grabbing airborne Shaq hard to eliminate the chance that Shaq would make the layup — is widely regarded as a legit “basketball play.” I’d say that at least 2/3 of NBA coaches and players share this view.

My view is that it should be considered a non-basketball play and carry sufficient penalty so that no player would ever consider attempting it. The only legit defensive play for Stack in that particular situation would be to try to force a miss without deliberately fouling — for example, by reaching in with the left hand to strip the ball or just cause a bobble, which might be enough to cause a miss; slipping around the backside of the mammoth Shaq to try to make a play on the ball with your right hand; challenging the shot by jumping into vacant space where you might be able to block the shot or force Shaq into an awkward double-clutch.

If the penalty for a deliberate foul was an automatic 3 points, there’d be no deliberate fouls. This would eliminate the 2 or 3 plays per game where someone is put in danger by a hard, intentional foul. Most of those fouls don’t produce injuries, but some do. Injuries are a part of the game, but those particular injuries should NEVER occur. I’ve seen too many postseasons ruined for various players — and thus their teams — because someone on the other team brutally enforced his coach’s “No layups!” edict. (I mention coaches because, in my view, THEY are the problem. Coaches, not players, set the tone and give the marching orders.)

As for suspensions based on the severity of the intentional foul, my view is that a play like Stack’s should have the following penalties: If committed in the regular season, suspension for 10 regular-season games. If committed in the playoffs, suspension for 20 regular-season games, beginning at the start of the next season. In addition, if the foul causes an injury, the fouler should be similarly incapacitated for however long the foulee is hobbled and/or sidelined.

Applying that logic to Stack, he’d be suspended for the first 20 games of next season, but because Shaq wasn’t hurt, there’d be no playoff suspension. And instead of Shaq having to go to the stripe to, as the saying goes, “earn ‘em at the line,” the scorer would simply add 3 points to the Heat’s total, and possession would revert to the Mavs.

For more of my ideas on humanizing the game so that actual BASKETBALL PLAYS determine who wins and loses, see this essay at


At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are way to eager to suspend players. You've done it a few times, and it doesn't seem very justified.

I think the rule should be simple. Stack should have been ejected from that game. period

At 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the NBA taking all the physical play out of the game. In the 80's-90's these types of plays happened all the time. As Shaq said, it's how the League use to play. Now you have guys like Wade who gets calls when someone looks at him.

At most this warranted an ejection, no way can the league change the series on this call but they did.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Dennis Hans said...

Under my plan, Stack wouldn't have missed one second of playoff action. Also, plays like Stack's were NOT commonplace in the pre-Bad Boys 1980s. Late in the 80s and then in the 90s the Pistons and Riley's 90s Knicks did indeed thuggify the game.

If this stuff were commonplace, McHale's 1984 foul on Rambis wouldn't have caused a near-riot on the court. It would have been treated as business as usual. Also, though it turned into a clothesline type foul that put Rambis at serious risk, McHale was actually trying to wrap him up around the waist before he could shoot. But because McHale is puny and he attempted the wrap-up just as the sprinting Rambis was raising his arms to begin his layup or dunking motion, the force of the raising brought McHale's arms up to his Rambis's neck, causing the dangerous, high-speed takedown. These things happen when the league rewards "no-layups" intentional fouls.

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