Say there’s this steakhouse in town, pretty good place, and you take over as the general manager. Sifting through the new staff, you come across this line cook that for the most part, can do everything fairly fine. He makes a mean steak, doesn’t get the food sent back, has a decent grasp of the entire menu, but my gawd, he has no idea how to cook the salmon.
The problem is, even though it’s a steakhouse, the salmon is popular, and plenty of people wouldn’t come on Friday night if it wasn’t on special. So, you have these options:
1. You take the salmon off special, hope people come in, but don’t order as much salmon because the one line cook can’t cook the damn thing worth a darn;
2. You fire the line cook, because he’s useless at one of the main items on the menu;
3. The line cook can work the non seafood special nights, even though he’d make less money because that’s a busy shift, until he learns how to cook the salmon.
Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons shot a staggering 36 free throws Wednesday night, missing a record 23 of them, when the Houston Rockets just basically did the equivalent of giving the referees a note that said, “call a foul if we breathe in his general direction. We’re cool with it.”
This conjures up one of the most idiotic basketball arguments of our modern time, probably secondary only to the general outrage of court rushing in college hoops. The whiners were out in full force, demanding change because “nobody turns on the television to watch guys shoot free throws.”
It should be expected. We’ve become a society who aches to bend over backwards to change the rules of the many to appease the very few, a society that thinks the way out is “changing a rule” rather than thinking, “well, maybe a guy paid millions to play a sport should just get better at it.”
The narcissism in suggesting rule changes “because I personally don’t like watching it” and sending the message that if you’re awful at something in an industry of guys mostly pretty good at that same thing, we should change the rules for you.
The middle ground is the Intentional Foul, which gives two shots and the ball to the offending party. Fouls can be intentional without being “Intentional,” but “Intentional” fouls cannot be unintentional, as it were.
Therein lies the problem with that solution, because all of a sudden you add more ambiguity to officiating, putting the refs in an even tougher spot. The NBA seems to be different from the NFL and MLB in that the NBA doesn’t seem to be on some annual quest to put referees in the spotlight with more latitude to make game-altering calls and changing the rules to encourage it.
That’s all the league needs: a team not actually trying to intentionally foul a guy in an NBA Finals game getting called for the Intentional Foul, and that play factoring into the end result. The Association already has a fringe population that thinks playoff games are fixed anyway, and a history that says at times, yes, officials fixed games.
The actual solution is that “if you’re so morbidly bad at shooting free throws, you don’t get clock when the team needs free throws to be hit.” It’s no different than when there’s a player that plays just hideous on-ball perimeter defense but can shoot the hell out of the ball late in games.
If you’re on defense needing stops, he’s sitting. If you have the luxury of doing offense-defense subs, great, but if not, you choose whether or not it’s worth it to have a poor defender on the floor at the benefit of keeping a great shooter on it. Free throws are often psychological beasts, where the same guy knocking them down at an 80 percent clip at practice can’t get over 40 percent in a game.
Guys respond to missed minutes, though. If you’re missing a few rebounds or blocks because of it, those are the breaks. Get better at that part of your job and you’ll get more run.
Changing the rules would be to accept failure and excuse it for the sole purpose of personally being more entertained. No one has ever not watched an NBA playoff game because s/he didn’t want to see a guy miss free throws. Only in today’s world would this rule change be considered at the expense of what, a couple high-profile games per year?
Only in today’s world.
Learn to cook the salmon, or stay home for the dinner rush.