The number 41 should be as revered in basketball as 715 is in baseball. 714 was Babe Ruth’s record for home runs in the majors, and as SportsCenter made us all aware when Barry Bonds passed it, that number is a big deal, even though it isn’t the actual record. The NBA should follow suit, and try to copycat some of the tradition that Major League Baseball has, and make a similarly big deal about the number 41, representing Rasheed Wallace’s league record for number of technical fouls in one season.
And it might happen this year, because the chase to eclipse that mark will be on. The NBA has adopted a new “zero-tolerance” policy for bitching at officials, and that’s the best damn news I’ve heard all day. Now, I love Rasheed Wallace… love him. But for every one technical he got last year, if I was in Dick Bavetta’s velcro’d-up shoes, I’d have given him five more. Any time he does the wild swinging of his arms, or the flinging of the headband, he deserves one. Rarely does an NBA game pass where Rasheed Wallace doesn’t at least deserve a technical foul.
If the NBA sticks to this, and enforces it with some backbone, we could see the first ever 50 technical foul season in the NBA. I hope SportsCenter has constant updates on the run towards 50… perhaps even assigning Pedro Gomez to the beat.
“It’s just another ‘Sheed Wallace rule,” Wallace said, shaking his head. “It just means I must be doing something right. Any time they change the rules of the game for one specific player, you must be doing something right.”
It’s a fact that the Detroit Pistons didn’t bitch and whine nearly as much in the 2004 championship season as they did in the following two years, and it’s not a total coincidence that the 2004 team was better than the next two incarnations. The 2004 team had more discipline, and they played harder. As their bitching and whining went up in the following seasons, their discipline and work ethic on the court went down. That happened. I’m not implying that it’s a cause and effect, but there is a correlation.
“I don’t understand it, man, especially for a team like ours,” Chauncey Billups said.
“They know we are a very emotional team. I feel like this is a Pistons rule. It just gives them easier access to have us open up and get emotional and then, boom, they bust our bubble. It’s like they are trying to take the emotion out of the game.”
I love Chauncey, too, but… that is absolute bullshit, my beloved point guard. The league is doing you a favor here. Eliminating the whining and crying would make the Detroit Pistons a better team. They won the title in 2004, and they all thought they were superstars, and had this sense of entitlement, like they should get every call, and they had a right to bitch about things when they were wronged, and that they were bigger than the officials… I’m sure they’d deny that, and they can say what they want, but there was a visible change. In 2004, Tayshaun Prince was a quiet, hardworking guy on the court. And I’m sure he’s still the same guy off the court, but on it, he turned into one of the league’s bitchiest players. It drove me nuts.
Understand it, fellas: the league is doing you a favor here. What’s important is the next play you make. Getting mad about a call that you can’t possibly change is not important. It’s self-indulgent, and it’s a waste. Squash it, and focus on what you’re doing to do next.
What the league is actually doing with this policy is stepping in to coach the Pistons where Flip Saunders refuses to do so.
And to step back and take a look at it from a leaguewide standpoint… this is an outstanding policy, and I hope they follow through with enforcing it. Whining and bitching is at an all-time high throughout the league, and I singled out the Pistons, but every team does it. Every single team has at least one or two guys who bitch incessantly–and it actually lessens the fun I have when watching the NBA. It pisses me off, just a little bit, every single time I see it, and I’m glad the league’s doing something about it.
Whew. Hadn’t had an NBA post in a while. That felt good.