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Do NBA Players Ever Commit a Foul During a Game?

“Game Respect” Fouls are Designed to Encourage NBA Players to Act Like Men, Not Children

When your child acts out do you give him a time out or ignore it and walk away? This is the question the NBA faced when in 2010 it broadened the circumstances under which officials can call personal and technical fouls for disrespecting the officials and, some would say, the game itself. I watched the NBA playoffs last week and counted that in one game where 32 fouls were called, 27 of the players charged with the foul complained to the referee. In most cases the play gestates, stares at the referee, or follows the referee up the court. Players howl, shrug, punch the air, raise their palms and sometimes chase referees 90 feet to plead their case. League officials decided they had seen enough and instituted the following guidelines to enforce the “game respect” foul. Actions that could produce a technical foul for “childish” behavior include the following

• Aggressive or disrespectful gestures, such as punching the air, waving off a referee, flailing one’s arms, jumping up and down or clapping sarcastically.

• Running at a referee to protest a call or a noncall.

• Excessive complaining — even in a civil tone — after a warning has been issued.

“Our fan research shows that people think N.B.A. players complain too much,” Stu Jackson said the former Vice President of Executive Operations for the NBA. “But that aside, in reviewing our games, what we have observed is an excessive amount of complaining to referees’ calls and noncalls.” Players can ask about a rule or the reason for a call. The problem, Jackson said, is that “some players abuse that ability” with excessive inquiries and by chasing officials. Sometimes the coaches are just a bad as the players.

The following video is a good example of how players and coaches can harass referees to the point of having technical fouls called against them. It features Alan Iverson and Larry Brown, former player and coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.

If your child acted that way he might be locked in his room, forced to go to bed without dinner, and, yes, even punished more severely although it seems as though today steps taken to get youngsters to accept responsibility for their actions are too few and far between.

Fan surveys have indicated the following as being the biggest whiners of the current players: LeBron James (every time he drives or shoots he pretends he's hurt and complains to the refs) Dwight Howard (he thinks he never fouls) but the refs disrespect him a lot (according to Howard) Kobe Bryant (every time he misses a shot he thinks ‘hey I got fouled.)” Kobe was the fan favorite in this category.

Back in 2010, Jackson said he expected that players would quickly adapt to the stricter guidelines, although initially there were more technical fouls called then in the past. Under the rules at the time, the first two technical fouls cost $1,000 each, with increases up to $2,500 once a player draws his seventh. During the 2010-2111, there were 883 technicals called at $2,000 each. Clearly, the amount of the fine is not a deterrent.

The reality is that over time the referees have called less and less technical fouls for bad behavior. This probably reflects a defeatist attitude about the "game respect" standard that clearly has failed. NBA players have never met a foul that was committed by them. They act like babies (i.e., spoiled brats), and that may not be surprising because they were coddled growing up and told how special they were because of their basketball talents. They didn’t learn responsibility and accountability and, like many in our society, have little respect for authority. Of course there are exceptions to this rule.

Civility in basketball is a concept foreign to today’s players. It seems that flagrant fouls are on the rise as players sometimes hack down on an opponent to prevent them from scoring an easy bucket. It also seems as though we see more anger on the court. The reality is all too many players have a hard time controlling their tempers. The bottom line is players’ behavior has gotten worse over the years. We shouldn’t be surprised because it mirrors bad behavior in society, on You Tube, and in social media. One problem is today’s teenagers watch their favorite player arguing after every call and it influences their own behavior. Unfortunately, it has spread to adults including our government officials as Republicans whine about the socialist agenda of the Democrats and Democrats complain about Republican intransigence on all progressive agenda initiatives. Rather than discuss their differences civilly, one side complains about the other and even uses harsh language. How else should we expect our youngsters to act when this kind of thoughtless behavior persists in sports, government and other areas of our society?

Ideally, I’d like to see a change in the behavior of NBA players. By their actions and words, and general combativeness towards officials, a negative message is being sent to our youth. I believe the effects show up in unruly behavior at school, disguising posts on the Internet, and other offensive behavior that is contributing to the breakdown of civility in society.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on May 13, 2014 Professor Mintz teaches at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and also blogs at:

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