NBA Competition Committee Has “Hack a Shaq” Backwards


You know that annoying strategy, the Hack a Shaq, where unless you’re a fan of the team employing it, you think it should go away?  For the uninitiated, the Hack a Shaq is intentionally, and repeatedly, committing an on or off the ball foul of a player who is a poor foul shooter.

Created by Dallas Maverick coach Don Nelson, it achieved notoriety in the past when employed by San Antonio Spur coach, Gregg Popovich, on former Los Angeles Laker center Shaquille O’Neal.  Current Laker center Dwight Howard is presently on the receiving end of it by Popovich.

As strategies go, if this were baseball it would be called “bush league” and considered unbecoming of a coach of Popovich’s, stature.

I don’t like the Hack a Shaq and it should go.  However, according to an article published by the AP’s Brian Mahoney these are some of the NBA Competition Committee’s thoughts on the matter:

Dwight-HowardLeague president Joel Litvin said owners and the Competition Committee felt that abolishing the strategy, which does slow games down, would be “rewarding a guy who can’t shoot free throws.”

Well I’ll grant the committee this; it does slow the game down by what amounts to a non-basketball play, that is not exciting, or involve skill.  You can make the case that this type of game stoppage, especially when the foul is committed off the ball, should fall into the category of a delay of game. 

The Hack a Shaq slows the game down more than rolling the ball out-of-bounds after a made basket.  If it is a delay of game than the first infraction is a warning and the second is a technical.

And committing a foul is an infraction.  The league is counter intuitively rewarding the team committing the infraction.  It has to be one or the other.   If you don’t want to reward a guy who can’t hit foul shots than you do want to reward the team that says forget legitimate strategy, forget playing the game the way it was meant to be played, we are going to intentionally make illegal contact with a guy who doesn’t have the ball.

I would think the Competition Committee would want games decided by great offense, great defense or a combination of the two.  Not a loophole or exploitation of a rule. 

Shaquille O'Neal, James JonesI’ll even take it one step further and make the case that any foul, which is not in the act of shooting, that results in foul shots, the team being victimized by the foul should get to choose who on their team takes the foul shot.

Again, the team committing the foul has committed the offense.  There should be no or absolutely minimal advantage to them for doing so.  If this is too harsh, perhaps instead of after the 6th team foul committed in the quarter, this adaptation of the rule can take place after the 8th or 10th.  This way there is an incremental aspect to it that further punishes a team for committing fouls to excess.  

The league likes offense right?  This would speed up the pace of the game and or encourage cleaner defense as the consequence of committing a rules infraction, which is what a foul is, would be greater.