THE SANTA CLARA
May 21, 2015
How does the NBA go about fixing the infamous “Hack-a-Shaq” that has become rampant and highlighted during this year’s playoffs?
Learn how to make your free throws. That’s the simple answer, but then this article would only be three sentences long.
Specifically, poor free throw shooters, such as Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, have been intentionally fouled to take a possession away from their team in exchange for a low probability free throw attempt.
I understand its strategy; if your opponent has a weakness, exploit it so you can win. The inability to make a free throw is a flaw.
San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said “… if we’re not allowed to do something to take advantage of a team’s weakness, a trade should be made before each game. ‘We won’t foul your guy, but you promise not to block any of our shots.’ Or, ‘We won’t foul your guy, and you allow us to shoot all uncontested shots.’”
It makes sense to use the strategy from a coach’s standpoint, but from a fan’s perspective, it is extremely boring to watch. In Game Four of the series between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers, center DeAndre Jordan attempted a new NBA playoff record of 28 free throws in the first half alone.
The first 24 minutes of the game took much longer than 24 minutes.
After the game, in which the Rockets got smacked 128-95, both James Harden and Coach Kevin McHale said they did not like the strategy. The aforementioned Popovich has also said that it’s “awful” visual-wise. The Spurs lost to the Clippers in the previous round, and the Rockets lost Game Four when they completely embraced the strategy.
Nobody likes it and it doesn’t really work anymore.
Once the Rockets stopped using this strategy, they won three straight games and took the series from the Clippers to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
At its core, the NBA is a fan’s game and “Hack-a-whoever” isn’t good television. Commissioner Adam Silver said the league will talk about solutions to the problem this offseason.
Here are some of mine:
1) Award three free throws instead of two on obvious intentional fouls, like the ones the Spurs and Rockets were performing on Jordan. Sometimes, they’d simply touch or hug him and look at the referee.
2) Tweak the rule so that you couldn’t intentionally foul someone outside of the three point line. This way, the advantage of a big man like Jordan getting an offensive rebound or easy dunk is nullified, and so too is the advantage of fouling a poor free throw shooter and destroying the flow of their offense.
Like Popovich said, coaches won’t stop until there is a trade-off. This provides an equalizer.
Tyler Scott is a junior marketing major.