Most people won’t want to hear this.
They'll say: “It’s a part of the game. You have to have it or else it just becomes a hack fest. Just play good defence, and it isn’t an issue”.
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When we boil it down, sport is entertainment. We want to see the best players playing at the highest level possible. Sometimes, we are robbed of that by injuries, which we work as hard as possible to try and prevent and heal from using cutting edge medical procedures and technologies.
Yet, we just accept that games can be swung because a player committed too many fouls.
I have lots of problems with fouls in the NBA, from players jumping into defenders to get free throws, so teams can deliberately foul to prevent a team from taking a three and getting a benefit out of violating the rules.
These things need to go as well. But today, I’m focusing on fouling out.
There are a lot of fouls in an NBA game. Too many most would say. It is the nature of the sport that contact on shooting impacts a player’s ability to hit said shot, so fouls will always be called.
But, the fact that each player only gets six fouls for a game before they are disqualified from that game is ridiculous.
I guess we could start softly by allowing players an additional two fouls for a game that goes to overtime, but why stop there?
How does anybody get enjoyment from a game when the good players are either forced out due to fouls, or have to play fewer minutes because their coach is scared of them fouling out, or that players play matador defence to avoid fouls, so they don’t foul out?
It leads to a much worse on-court product. We want the best players to play the most minutes and in the high leverage minutes. This is an undeniable fact.
No other sport has a rule like this
In the first round of these playoffs, we have had rotations changed, and perhaps results decided due to foul outs or foul trouble to players like Jusuf Nurkić (three times), which leads to Portland having to play Enes Kanter on Rudy Gobert in Utah’s Game 1 loss, to Jae Crowder in losses to the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma, Marc Gasol, Dillon Brooks, Ben Simmons, Ivica Zubac, Duncan Robinson, and the list continues.
Sure, players should not foul, but with the state of NBA officiating and incorrect calls hope many of these fouls are the correct calls, and even if they are, does that mean we just shouldn’t see that player anymore?
In no other sport does a player have a limit of how many rule violations they can commit, leading their play-style to change or the minutes to be cut.
You don’t have a limit on how many free-kicks you can give away in the AFL, on how many fouls you can commit in the Premier League, how many flags can be thrown in the NFL.
The closest analogy is the two-minute penalty in hockey, but that player returns to the game.
So, how do you prevent players from just recklessly attacking shooters and driving to the lane if the fear of a disqualification is eliminated?
To me, the answer is straightforward. For every foul a player commits over a set number (say six), the team gets the free throws, plus possession of the ball, just like a flagrant foul.
If it’s a non-shooting foul, play it like a technical foul, with one shot and the ball.
This is sufficient punishment to stop coaches throwing players out just to hack with no fear of fouling out, but we also don’t get into a situation where Jusuf Nurkić, Anthony Davis or Giannis Antetokounmpo has to play 28 minutes because they were in foul trouble or had fouled out.
We just want the best players to compete against each other, not have them sitting on the bench watching as inferior players lose their team the game.
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