If you haven’t heard, the NBA is cracking down on complaining this year. Looked at the ref crazy? That’s a technical. Say he’s stupid? That’s another one. It’s likely that even just thinking that a referee might have made a mistake could result in a T, so teams are going to have to try very hard to keep calm and carry on when the going gets rough. If they don’t, this season is going to be an ejection festival and the entire league is invited. And now that the NBA has just doubled the cost for getting hit with a tech, players have extra incentive to keep their mouths shut.
That’s exactly what new Atlanta Hawks head coach Larry Drew is preaching to his team.
“Let the officials make the calls and play,” he told [the Hawks]. “That’s a big part of our growth. We are always complaining to officials about calls. We have got to get that [stuff] out of our system. That starts here in practice.”
When players broke the huddle at the end of the game, Drew delivered the same message. He elaborated on his reasoning in an interview afterward.
“To me nothing positive comes out of that,” he said. “[Officials] are not going to change the call, so just leave them alone and just play basketball. It’s a very emotional game, and I understand that. … [But] we don’t want to get into being a team that complains a lot and always disputing calls and that type thing.”
Perfect. No problems for Atlanta, then. They only had eight players get T’d up last year, so they should be fine. Josh Smith is usually pretty good about keeping his head and Joe Johnson’s heart rate rarely exceeds 75. One team down, 29 to go.
Let’s see how Orlando’s doing. They have one of last season’s technical foul leaders in Dwight Howard and a coach who was born to scream in Stan Van Gundy. That’s not a great combination in a league that is handing out technicals for anything louder than a polite attention-grabbing throat clear.
Here’s what the Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz found out:
“I’ll be fine,” Howard said. “My teammates have asked me to do a better job of not getting frustrated, not showing so much frustration.” [...]
“Pre-season is a good trial for us,” Jameer Nelson said. “The things we talked amount in the meeting were fair. Some things you see as a player, you know you aren’t supposed to do.
“But sometimes, emotions get a hold of you. I don’t think they’re trying to take out emotions, totally, but body gestures toward the refs they’re trying to take out. They do it for the game and for us as role models. We need to manage our emotions better.”
OK, so it’s not quite the “shut up and let the refs do their jobs” approach the Hawks are taking, but it’s certainly an effort to make a change. That’s something, at least. Cross the Magic off the list of teams who are at least going to try to adhere to the league’s new technical rules.
Staying in the Eastern Conference, perhaps we should see what’s up with the Boston Celtics. Two of their biggest technical magnets — the retired Rasheed Wallace and injured Kendrick Perkins — won’t be racking up the Ts, so Boston should have no problem adjusting, you’d think.
Quite wrong, according to head coach Doc Rivers who told the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy that he thinks his team is just fine how it is.
“We’re going to set the record again this year,” he said. “We’re going to go for it. Last year we fell short of the technical record, and we’re going to go for it this year.
“It’s going to be tough. If you think about it, we won’t have Perk or Rasheed for the first half, so I don’t know how we’re going to set it. But we’ll work on it somehow.”
Joking aside, Rivers has no interest in hamstringing his team with an attempt to curb the Celtics’ emotional nature.
Even without Wallace, the C’s will operate on a high-strung frequency.
“The game is played with emotion,” Rivers said. “That doesn’t mean there has to be negative emotion. It is an emotional game, but I just want the officials to listen, see what they call and call what they see, and things will be fine.”
If the referees stick to these new stricter guidelines — they didn’t back in 2005 when the same sort of rules were instituted — then the Celtics are going to be hearing a lot of whistles. Even with Wallace gone and Perkins out for a while, Boston still has quite a few guys who’ll pipe up if they disagree with an official. Paul Pierce had five technicals last year and Rajon Rondo had four. Somehow, Kevin Garnett went tech-free, but he’s been known to get his yells on and supposedly that’ll mean two shots and the ball on the side for whatever team the Celtics happen to be playing. Get ready for a lot of free throws, Bostonians.
Just to recap, from looking at just three Eastern Conference playoff teams we have a Keep Quiet Team, a Try to Keep Things Kind of in Check Team and a Don’t Change Anything Team. This is going to work out great.