Silver: Youth coaches against intentional fouling changes

May 4, 2015 / Basketball
A lot has been made of the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy in basketball, especially lately as it has been used against DeAndre Jordan to minimize his offensive effectiveness for the L.A. Clippers. Some like it, but many more hate it.

The "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy is becoming more common against poor free-throw shooters like DeAndre Jordan. | Photo: Verse Photography
The “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy is becoming more common against poor free-throw shooters like DeAndre Jordan. | Photo: Verse Photography

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was asked about it over the weekend during an interview on SirusXM Bleacher Report Radio. Fans and coaches are calling for new rules to address the strategy, but Silver isn’t so sure the league is ready to go that far.

From the interview:

“From a basketball standpoint, and this is one where I really I am torn, I mean, I don’t like it. Aesthetically, it’s not good, I think, for a fan to watch it. Even though I find the strategy fascinating. On the other hand, when we raised it — and I’ve said this before — the last time we discussed it as our board meeting several years ago, I remember Michael Jordan was at that meeting, Larry Bird was at that meeting, and the greats who were there, their reaction was, ‘Guys gotta make their free throws.’ And, ‘It’s sending all the wrong messages to youth basketball.’ And even in terms of fundamentals of our game, somehow this has been the case from early days of the NBA.

“Rod Thorn recently told the story about how he was sent out as a young player to foul Wilt Chamberlain ‘cause everybody knew — same issue back then, the strategy wasn’t used the same way but people knew Wilt couldn’t make his free throws. And so it’s nothing new in the league, and once again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t make the change but I think we gotta be really careful on how we go about doing it. And I get a ton of emails from people involved in youth basketball saying, ‘Please don’t make the change.'”

The argument, at least from a youth coach’s perspective, seems to be that kids need to learn to shoot free throws instead of creating rules that gets them out of it. Seems appropriate enough, and if teams are using this strategy, it makes sense to either work on that player’s free-throw game or accept the downside to putting him or her on the court.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked whether he’d like to see a change, and here is what he said:

“I think it’s an ugly thing. I hate it. I hate thinking about it. It really mucks up the game. But … free-throw shooting is part of the game. So it’s like, I won’t foul Jordan if Doc will promise not to contest any of our shots. It’s an even trade. If someone has a weakness, we exploit it. Intellectually, I don’t feel bad about it. Sight-wise, it’s God-awful.”

Silver did acknowledge that the strategy will be discussed at the next general managers meeting and by the competition committee.

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