– Darío Vázquez
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has agreed to address the “Hack-a-Shaq” intentional fouling strategy that is being abused nowadays. Team who find themselves down by a significant margin in the game proceed to intentionally foul bad free throw shooters off the ball to stop the clock and prevent the other team from scoring. This strategy, as the name implies, dates back to Shaquille O’Neal’s dominant days in LA. The problem today is that it’s not just trying to prevent the most dominant offensive force the game has ever seen from scoring but now we see every team fouling whatever bad free throw shooter is on the floor even if he is not an offensive star in the league like DeAndre Jordan. While I agree that doing the “piggy back” foul or even fouling a player in bounding the ball is crossing the line, isn’t a change to this rule basically covering up a player’s deficiency? Former NBA star Chris Webber recently made comments about his personal experience becoming a better free throw shooter. He claimed that after his first season in the league he hired someone to help him practice the free throws everywhere he went including a friend’s wedding who happened to have a court right next to where the wedding was being held. Webber holds the largest free throw percentage increase from one season to another in NBA history. He is not the only player to make similar comments about players having the desire to improve their shooting and I have to agree. No, I don’t expect Dwight Howard to all of a sudden become Stephen Curry but I’m sure if he practices enough he can become a decent shooter and make teams hesitant to intentionally fouling him. Now the whole need to change this rules emerges from the fact that it slows down the game and makes it “boring” to fans. The NBA is a business and they will do whatever changes are necessary to make the game a lot more “fun” and “entertaining” for fans as they have done before. I don’t have a problem with them modifying it, making it a little less obvious and harder for teams to accomplish but they have to do it the right way. A suggestion I’ve heard around is making those type of fouls flagrant. While that is the most obvious resolution I believe players will find a way to foul players without hugging or hacking the player. We will see players fouling on screens and trying to not make it look intentional. Then it’s gonna be a whole new issue in determining what is an intentional foul and what isn’t as we don’t have enough problems trying to define what a flagrant foul is. What is the easiest solution to this problem? Make them hit the free throws and don’t cover up player’s deficiencies.
– Christian Fuentes (Sports Journalist for Metro Puerto Rico)
So finally, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver conceded that a rule change needs to happen to fix the whole “Hack-a-Shaq” technique many teams have made a habit of using a lot during the past few years. While I agree that it’s a rule that’s fair because everyone can exploit it and can use it, I’m glad it’s being addressed. It makes NBA basketball unbearable to watch. Seeing the game being started and stopped gets to a point where it’s frustrating. Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Iguodala and others catch a lot of flak for not being good in free throws. “They get paid millions, they should hit free throws”. While that may be true, I don’t usually use that to justify. Every player has certain abilities. Some can shoot, some can’t. I won’t chastise those guys for not shooting well from the line. Howard, Drummond and Jordan are under the rim type guys and aren’t used to ever shooting. That being said, I always thought the strategy was bogus. Fouling a player off ball shouldn’t send him to the line. I hope that the change results in making that a flagrant foul. THEN you’ll see teams back off from doing it. If you want to foul a bad free throw shooter, it should be done when he gets the ball. I’m even happier that they already changed that idiotic “piggy back” foul players were doing. That looked very ridiculous. I’m actually surprised the rule wasn’t changed when it first began in the early 2000s with Shaquille O’Neal. I think they took too long. It’s a blatant situation for a rule change and I think the NBA missed on this one for a decade and a half. But it’s never too late for the change. Make it happen, Commish.