Saturday, January 30, 2016

Basketball is still an awful sport to watch

From the current issue of Sports Illustrated:

So why do I care about this?

Four years ago, I said the same thing in a blog post called "Basketball is an awful sport. Here's why." If you don't want to read the whole thing, I will summarize.

Basketball is the only sport I can think of where a team can be rewarded for breaking the rules. Specifically, by deliberately fouling and opponent's weaker free-throw shooters, a team that is losing can catch up when the weak free-throw shooter misses and the team that is losing gets the rebound.

All of the fouls and free throws plus the seemingly unlimited number of timeouts that each team has result in the last two minutes of the game taking 20 or more minutes.

To me, it's unwatchable.

Pertinent to Van Gundy's comments is that Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond, who will play in the All-Star game, set an NBA record by missing 23 free throws in a single game on January 20.

This was part of a deliberate strategy by the Houston Rockets who were losing the game by nine points at the start of the third quarter. Houston's K.J. McDaniels fouled Drummond five times within nine seconds and the team fouled Drummond on seven straight Piston possessions. During that stretch, Drummond made 5 of his 16 free-throw attempts.

It must have been quite an exciting couple of minutes of play.

The All-Star Drummond had to be taken out of the game in the fourth quarter so that Detroit could hold on and win the game.

Yahoo Sports reporter Eric Freeman said: "While it's a little inexact to say that sending a player to the line over and over again 'isn't basketball' given that the rules allow it, it's downright enervating to watch and not an ideal product for a league that ultimately sells entertainment above all else. Intentional fouling is also increasingly common, with seemingly each team having at least one player who gets sent to the line in opportune moments."

He suggested that NBA commissioner Adam Silver is going to have to do something about the issue.

Here's what I've done about it. For the last few years, I haven't watched basketball.


Anonymous said...

The ol Hack-a-Shaq strategy. It has a dubious record of success although I doubt there are any mathematical models to prove that. I would like to see the stats.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

That's the irony of it. It didn't work for Houston in the game against Detroit that I mentioned in the post.

Don said...

Many years ago (before my time, in fact) all free throws were taken by the team's free throw specialist, who, like an NFL field goal kicker, was successful over 90% of the time. Returning to that rule might reduce the deliberate hacking. Another possibility: allow the team to decline the free throws and inbound the ball instead with a full shot clock. Not sure I like that one as much as the free throw specialist thing. (hey, with that rule I might have had an NBA career myself!)

artiger said...

I have a special term for basketball season...I call it "my rest period between football and baseball seasons".

To be fair, in football we will sometimes see a team take a deliberate delay of game penalty for better placement on a punt, though I think the other team does have the ability to decline it.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Don, thanks for the history lesson and the suggestions for changing the rule. I had thought of the decline the free throws and take the ball which I favor over having a designated free throw shooter. The former would speed up the game.

Artiger, you are correct that the defense can refuse a delay of game penalty. I've seen it happen.

Unknown said...

Still may not be an interesting enough sport to watch, but:

NBA Commissioner expects NBA to explore changes to Hack-a-Shaq Rules

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Ian, thanks for the link. Since it was published in April 2015, the league had the whole summer to do something about it. I don't believe they did. I guess if people keep watching, they feel there is no reason to change anything.

I don't watch it myself. In addition to the deliberate fouls, the league's other major problem is that there are a lot of really bad teams -- Nets, Knicks, Bucks, 76ers, Lakers, Suns, T-wolves, Pelicans -- to name a few.

RealtySanta said...

As a lifelong basketball fan, I agree with you. But why stop at basketball? The rules in football are even more questionable. Why is spiking a ball allowed (just to stop the clock), but intentional grounding is a penalty? Why can you run the full length of the field holding the ball outside the sideline chalk, yet the second you magically wave the ball over the goal line......TOUCHDOWN?
This could actually be a long list if we started naming this odd rules in all the sports.
By the way, I'm an old EMT (out of the business years ago) with family still in healthcare and still have a keen interest in the matter. Recently discovered this blog an have enjoyed reading many of the posts.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Santa, I agree football has some stupid rules. What's with the 2 minute warning? Can't everyone see the clock? No one knows what is or isn't a catch. But at least if you commit a foul you don't get rewarded.

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