"Rasheed Rule" is unnecessary straitjacket

Nov. 24, 2006, midnight | By Nitin Sukumar | 16 years ago

Stern's latest crackdown strips emotion from NBA

Everyone loves David Stern. The NBA's babysitter decides what clothes the athletes wear to games and what ball the players should start using after 35 years of success. What's his latest change? Refs are now whistle-happy when it comes to arguing. Before the season started, Stern discussed with the referee association what his image of NBA players consists of. Accordingly, refs now have an unspoken, zero-tolerance policy for player rants on the court.

The new standard NBA refs have set for behavior was implemented to remove complaining directly after a change in possession and to keep the game running smoothly. As if LeBron James couldn't run, play defense and complain at the same time. Even King James and Dwyane Wade, regarded to be two of the more courteous stars in the league, have negative views on Stern's recent crack down. Although the two have managed to keep cool heads, Wade drawing only one technical, fellow '03 classman Carmelo Anthony was ejected on opening night. Refs ejected fifty-five players last season; 11 have been ejected this year and the NBA hasn't even finished its first month yet.

NBA athletes aren't babies. Sure, Ron Artest may blow a blood vessel playing hard-nosed defense, but every player throws an occasional tantrum. But when Rasheed Wallace gets a whistle for saying "And one" while sinking a jumper, the situation has changed completely. Wallace, whose name is synonymous with the technical foul, has explained that "the Rasheed Rule" is just a lowly attempt by the NBA's resident dictators Stern and Stu Jackson to make playing basketball even harder for him. He is on pace for about 37 technical fouls in 82 games this season, more than twice last year's total when he led the league with 17.

While some may argue that calling techs will keep players from arguing, and speed up the game, they miss the picture. Players will keep arguing. After 97 years of emotional basketball, the NBA's athletes will be slow to change, regardless of the rules. The new generation of players has gotten used to challenging calls by refs at the high school and collegiate levels. They watched their role models like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley go through the most frustrating and unfair games, bickering at refs and showing disgust.

So in the mean time, technicals are dished out at an astounding rate. Use your brain Stern! Not only do technicals cause major delays in games, but they also prevent teams from getting into any rhythm. Every time the refs call one, the play stops, the free throw is taken and everyone changes the channel. In previous years, this was acceptable; players often got into verbal fights with refs and fistfights with opponents. Now the refs have added rolling eyes and shaking heads to the short list.

Stern has already changed the game and its appearance by changing the ball and the clothes his athletes wear to work. Now he chooses to step up the restrictions on player emotion on the court. The new standard for players is not only ineffective by slowing the games down further, but it ruins the competitive atmosphere of the NBA by letting certain unfair calls go unchallenged.

Nitin Sukumar. Nitin's middle name is Antonio Gates. More »

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