The NBA is ready to address and perhaps eliminate the “Hack-a-Shaq” practice of intentionally fouling poor free-throw shooters away from the ball.
Commissioner Adam Silver wants to speed up games. He said if “Hack-a-Shaq” occurs three or more times, it adds roughly 11 minutes to a game. Silver said he “was on the fence” last year but knows something has to change.
“It’s not unanimous,” he told members of the Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday at the NBA offices. “But there’s clearly an emerging consensus both from the members of the competition committee and the owners who we made a presentation to last week that we need to address the situation.
“I’m hoping between now and when the owners next meet in July, we can create a consensus as to what the change in the rule should be.”
For the rule to change, it takes a two-thirds vote of the NBA’s Board of Governors.
The tactic got its name because Shaquille O’Neal, a notoriously bad free-throw shoo ter, often was fouled to send him to the line and stop his or his team’s momentum. These days, the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Houston’s Dwight How ard are among the players intentionally fouled most often.
Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, said there was “an explosion” of what he called “off-the-ball, deliberate fouls” during this regular season. Vandeweghe said there were 420 “of those fouls,” up 2½ times from last season.
“Very few people like the idea of this,” Vandeweghe said. “It’s a non-basketball play. It goes against the spirit of the rule book. Free throws are to compensate and deter fouls and not to encourage them. I think we’re at the point where everybody agrees on that.
“We’re going to have the competition committee look at various solutions, how to deal with it, eliminating it entirely . . . ”
Silver realizes “Hack-a-Shaq” is not appealing to fans. Another negative: Nationally televised games last longer than expected.
“It could become a real business issue,” he said. “Many of our games are dramatically exceeding the 2½-hour window they have set aside in their broadcast schedule because they often have other events. That’s at least one of the reasons why I feel we need to address that rule.”