One of the more divisive on court strategies utilized in the NBA is the increasingly commonplace “Hack-a-Shaq” defense, where teams intentionally foul opponents’ weaker free throw shooters down the stretch of close games. The debate over whether this strategy should be outlawed was renewed during this year’s first round playoff series between the Spurs and the Clippers, courtesy of San Antonio, when Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was a wholesale target of the practice. Needless to say, it slowed the games to a crawl at times and made for less than compelling theater.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged back in May that the league had considered a number of rule changes to discourage this practice. “It’s something that I’m on the fence about,” Silver had said. “My thought used to be that we should definitely change the rule, and then having sat through several general managers meetings, competition meetings and having heard from some of the game’s very best, the view is the players should hit their free throws. That’s changed my view a little bit. Having said that, when I watch some of these games on television, frankly, it’s not great entertainment for our fans, and that’s important as well.”
It doesn’t appear that there will be any changes made regarding the hack-a-(insert player name) defense for the 2015/16 campaign, with former NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson saying, “We had a pretty spirited discussion on the subject, and we talked prospectively about how we might change it. But in the end, there wasn’t enough support to change it. There was a feeling that by changing the rule you would be essentially rewarding a player for a lack of skill by allowing him to stay in the game.”
Some ideas that have been kicked around to fix this aspect of the game include:
- When a player is intentionally fouled he not only gets the allotted free throws, but his team also gets possession of the ball.
- Creating a “super bonus” situation where extra free throws are given after a team commits a predetermined amount of fouls in a quarter.
- Teams being allowed to retain possession and inbound the ball instead of taking free throws when they’re intentionally fouled.
- Allowing the team receiving the free throws to pick the player who gets to shoot them.
None of these changes seem like the perfect solution, and could also serve to disrupt the pacing of the game. There is also the traditionalist point of view that asserts that professional players making millions of dollars ought to be able to sink their attempts from the charity stripe. This brings me to the topic of the day: Should the NBA alter its rules regarding the “Hack-a-Shaq” defense? If so, then what changes need to be made?
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts, opinions, ideas…and potential fixes (if you believe the rule needs to be altered). Being mindful of our commenting policy, let us know what you think the NBA should do. We look forward to what you have to say!