It’s been one of the hotter topics on Twitter throughout the NBA playoffs.
What do we think about the ‘hack-a-Jordan’ fiasco?
Quite a few people hate it, saying that it deteriorates the entertainment value of the game.
Or that it doesn’t work, citing statistics from the Shaq-led Lakers and how they won most of their playoff series when opposing teams would employ the strategy.
Some say that it demolishes game flow, evoking the early days when basketball was played with a peach basket as a hoop and jump balls happened after every basket.
My retort: Learn how to make your fucking free throws.
If you want the ‘hack-a-Jordan’ intentional fouling to stop, then ask DeAndre Jordan to make his free throws. It shouldn’t take NBA legislation, or a morally sound coach denouncing the strategy in the name of basketball purity to make this come to an end.
These are professional athletes; individuals that compete on the highest level of competitive sport there is in the world. I don’t understand how it’s unjust that we expect them to be competent enough to make between six and seven of every ten free throws they shoot. Or in Jordan’s case, even five.
Nobody is asking DeAndre Jordan to shoot like Steve Nash. We’re asking him to shoot like Zach Randolph. How fucking hard is it to shoot an uncontested shot like Zach Randolph?
ESPN’s J.A. Adande has long been one of the “hack-a-somebody” detractors, penning this in February:
[quote_box_center]Since appreciation for the beauty of basketball can’t stop coaches from intentionally fouling bad free throw shooters away from the ball, perhaps we can appeal on these grounds: the hoops higher-ups hate it. I’m not talking about the occupants of the NBA offices, who continue to pay lip service to their distaste for the slew of fouls but refuse to legislate against it. I’m talking about the deities, the basketball gods. They have a way of punishing those who desecrate the game by fouling repeatedly, and rewarding those who abstain.
Some of the tactical arguments against intentional fouling are that it also disrupts the rhythm of the team doing the fouling, while eliminating the chance for transition baskets by allowing the defense to get set. Some research also shows it doesn’t work. I choose to believe it’s mainly because the basketball gods don’t want to see games dragged out to three hours, marred by watching bad free throw shooters parade to the line.[/quote_box_center]
Basketball gods? That’s cute. Hold up, give me one second, let me get on my knees and pray to Gratis, God of Free Throws and see how he feels about all this.
Adande also added this amongst a slew of anti-hack-a-__ tweets throughout the course of last night’s game.
Hey if this fouling thing catches on maybe baseball will make pitchers take every at bat for their teams. That would be great for the sport
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 11, 2015
This one struck me as particularly obtuse. I mean, I get his general idea, no one wants to watch pitchers hit (except for Bartolo Colon), but it’s a terrible comparison in a vacuum. Basketball is a fluid sport, baseball is not. Pitchers pitch and hitters hit.
If you’re an NBA basketball player, you’re required to play both offense and defense.
It’s honestly where the conversation should end. But it won’t, because when even the smallest thing is wrong in professional sports we scream for a complete overhaul of the system. In this case, eliminating the opportunity to foul away from the basket and letting a team choose its free throw shooter have been tossed around.
That’s all well and good. But we shouldn’t bastardize coaches who employ a strategy that gives their team a specific edge, or even beg the NBA competition committee to review the intentional foul rule.
We should be asking the professional athletes, who you know, get paid to do this, to drastically improve their free throw shooting rather than over-complicating the simplest aspect of the game of basketball.
(Featured Image courtesy of Keith Allison)