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Has The NBA Gone Soft?
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Has the NBA Gone Soft?

Do me a favor. Open up a new tab in your browser, type in "NBA Player" in Google and take a quick look.

Alright, now what did you see? Did you see small, frail guys who look like walking breadsticks or did you see men who you don't want to get in trouble with? I'm guessing the second, right? Right.

Let me take you back a few years into NBA history. It's 1998, the Chicago Bulls are playing the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the Finals. You know the history of that series if you're reading this, but something you might not remember is the wrestling match Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone were having on the floor of the Energy Solutions Center in Utah. If you look up that clip on the internet, you can see that it's not just one guy giving the other a slap or a shove where they're not supposed to, but they're actually tangled up, on the floor, not letting each other get up for quite some time. And rightfully so, Rodman got called for a foul. Either you were pro-Rodman or pro-Malone, but both sides agreed that Rodman deserved what he had coming.

"Yeah he got the foul, so what's your point?"

Well, my point is that he only got a regular foul. It was two men, battling for a NBA championship, they got amped-up throughout the game and things like that happen. Hell, for the sake of entertainment, these things SHOULD happen. Those days, players knew they could retaliate on an opponent (i'm not talking about hockey-type fistfights here) and being punished by a foul, maybe a technical if you went way out of line, but nothing more. Now let's flash forward to the 2010-2011 season. The NBA Headquarters decided they wanted to make the game nicer and more sportsmanlike. Here are some of the rules they implied since the beginning of the 2010-2011 season.

Technicals can now be called for:

- Making a aggressive gesture

- Any sort of complaining about, correcting, going off..(you get my drift) about a call made by the officials"

They should have added a new punishment for technicals as well: "Player will be put in the corner of the room and will not be allowed to watch tv before bed". Are you kidding me? There's nothing more entertaining when a foul happens and people get hyped. The players, the crowd, the people watching at home, they all share that same feeling when people go crazy no matter what it's about.

E.g. Kevin Garnett got ejected from a pre-season game in 2010 for talking to a referee after fellow teammate Jermaine O'neal got whistled for a offensive foul. (O'neal argued on the call as well and got a technical for complaining too long). Anyway, Garnett got ejected for talking. Yeap, not for shoving someone halfway down the court or threatening he's gonna kill someone. No, he just argued the call and got ejected for it.

Now since that game, players have been extremely cautious about arguing calls or even just daring to get in a off-play argument with a opposing player or team.

"Doesn't this improve the game?"

Though it might seem there is very little time wasted on players or coaches arguing calls, neither of them are able to release their frustrations during the game itself. Imagine yourself at work, getting yelled at by your boss and you know you can't do anything. Now imagine yourself in that same kind of situation, but now you're on a court, with 1000's of people yelling and screaming, heart rate is going through the roof and you have a game on the line. You get whistled for a foul and you're like "Ok, i'm going to take peace with that call although in my opinion it wasn't the right call, i don't care because after all it's just a NBA championship we're after." Doesn't make any sense, does it?

Now the problem with players not being able to out their frustrations is that those frustrations build up. They accumulate through the course of the game and while some are betters at containing themselves than others, people reach their boiling points. What happens next is that they start smacking, shoving and doing stuff that is completely uncalled for. Take a look at a game that was played this week, Game 5 of the 2012 Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers series. Teams were going at each other hard and the wrong things got called the wrong way. What's the result? Both Haslem and Pittman receiving Flagrant 1 fouls and being suspended respectively one (Haslem) and three (Pitmann, seriously?) games. They got back at the Pacers after they threw taunts and shoves at fellow Heat players. They went at it rough, but not like they really, really wanted to hurt their opponents. After both teams losing players to injury earlier, the NBA decided they had to take away even more players from their teams. Way to take the flow out of a otherwise exciting series, thanks a bunch..

So please, let those men be men and boys when they need to be boys and let the game have that rough edge, after all that's why we love it.

Street Talk

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