Getting Technical about Technicals
Even before this season began back in October, it was understood that the NBA would be cracking down on the outbursts of players mid-game by issuing technical fouls to all offending persons, and also by then suspending a player once he gets T’ed up a certain number of times.
As expected, and as reported by the L.A. Times last week, technical fouls in the NBA are up 34% from this point last season, up from 360 T’s last year to over 480 this year. However, the number of technical fouls given out this season has gone down in every month since this season began. But, the number of technical’s that are being whistled isn’t what is aggravating the NBA’s hoopsters—it is what is being perceived as a technical that is causing problems and confusion.
The number of technical fouls issued this season would already be well over 500, but over 40 T’s issued have later been nullified after-the-fact by the league. To this point in the season, more than 25 players have had at least one technical foul wiped off their record by the NBA later. This whistle-first, ask-questions-later policy with the NBA has led to the number of rescinded technical fouls more than tripling from the number that were wiped off-the-books a year ago.
As the league’s rules now stand, a player is suspended one game and fined 5-grand once that player hits 16 technical fouls, and the player is then suspended another game for every 2 additional T’s that the player is issued. With the league’s referees T’ing up anything that even smells like a technical, some players have flirted with this suspension line, but because the league has had to rescind so many technical fouls that-weren’t-really-technicals, no player has had to be suspended by the league, to this point. Currently, Dwight Howard is tied for the most in the league with 12 T’s, but has had 4 others nullified by the NBA—thus saving Dwight from a suspension; Carmelo Anthony has 8 T’s on his record, but has had 3 others wiped away, and Blake Griffin has 5 T’s, with two others that have been retracted.
The confusion that all of this has caused for the NBA’s ballers is that these stipulations on player outbursts has blurred the lines between an outburst that is directed at an NBA ref, and a simple show of emotion. Any person that has ever played basketball can tell you how much emotion and aggression play into the day-to-day activities on the basketball court: a player called for a hard foul under the hoop who hears the whistle, turns to the ref, and says “Are you serious?”, is not a technical foul. Although that exact situation ended with Andrew Bynum getting issued two quick technicals, and a quick ejection earlier this season, the NBA rescinded the second technical foul a day later, because, it seems, the NBA suddenly remembered that the sport is a wholly emotional game.
Come on, ref. That’s not a technical, that’s just Basketball.