SBD/October 19, 2010/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Not Likely To Back Down On Technicals Despite Legal Threat

NBPA Legal Threat Not Likely To Deter League's Plan To Issue More Technicals

The NBPA has threatened legal action over the NBA's decision to issue more technical fouls this season, but it "won't result in league executives rethinking the crackdown," according to a source cited by Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. There has been no public comment from NBA Commissioner David Stern "or any of his lieutenants in light of the NBPA's threat," but the source said that league officials are "determined to put a stop to constant complaining about calls and verbal abuse of officials and won't cave as a result of the NBPA's threat." The source: "I don't think it will have any effect." Berger wrote it "appears that the NBA and the players' union are headed for a showdown." The "closest parallel in recent showdowns between the NBA and the union came during the 2006-07 season, when league executives backtracked on their switch to a synthetic Spalding ball after years of using a leather ball." The synthetic ball was "widely panned by players, and the union filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board saying it wasn't consulted about what amounted to a drastic change in working conditions." Berger noted after a few weeks the NBA "pulled the synthetic ball and went back to leather" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/15).

CASE IN POINT: In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell writes yesterday's Bobcats-Heat preseason game was a "great illustration of how much more harsh the technical foul rule is now." Bobcats F Stephen Jackson received a technical after he "did nothing more than run in referee Curtis Blair's direction and look quizzically after he was called for a walk in the first half." Later, Heat F Chris Bosh received a technical "for shouting 'I did not do that,' after a foul call." Bonnell: "I'm sure the refs are just doing what they've been told. But those two technicals suggest not even a peep will be tolerated" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/19). In West Palm Beach, Ethan Skolnick writes the two technicals were "much too quick." In both cases, it "didn't appear that the players did -- or said -- much to deserve them." Heat F LeBron James: "Right now, guys are getting technicals and I've seen a couple of my teammates get technicals for I'm-not-going-to-say-nothing but really nothing." James added, "I just think the emotion of the game can never be taken out of the game of basketball. And that's when the fans, that's when the real guys, and the people who are watching and who know the game of basketball will know there's a problem with the game. ... If we try to take that out of the game, the fans don't like it as much" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 10/18).

RUMBLINGS OF LEGAL ACTION: FanHouse.com's Kevin Blackistone noted "everything is negotiated in the CBA." Blackistone: "It seems to me that if they're going to make a significant move like this, then everybody should be on-board with it." ESPN.com J.A. Adande noted it is "not just the technicals, it's a double fine too, so two grand now on arbitrary decisions you're asking these players to pay up." Adande: "I think there's legal action behind this" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/18). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Stern thinks of NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter as a "gnat flying around his face." Kornheiser added of the NBPA, "Stern doesn't have to worry about them. What Stern has to worry about is the paying public and losing big stars from games" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/15).

FOR GOOD OF THE GAME? Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan noted there have been "innumerable technicals and even ejections already which, if this keeps up, will adversely impact the game." Ryan: "Enough. How about making traveling and palming points of emphasis? … Fact: It's an emotional game, okay? Don't worry so much about protecting the refs. The players are the game" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 10/17). But in Illinois, Mike McGraw wrote "less complaining is good for the NBA." The league's stars have "turned playing the crowd and working the officials into an art form" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 10/18). In New Jersey, Steve Adamek writes the "bottom line" is that players have "complained too much for years and the rule is designed to curb that." Adamek: "This rule will soften. And the whining about the no-whining rule will stop" (Bergen RECORD, 10/19). In Jacksonville, David Johnson wrote, "The NBA made the right move here, and let's hope commissioner David Stern stands firm. Fans are tired of watching NBA players complain, then seeing how obvious the foul call was" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/17)

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