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“How many of these you consider ethical or unethical depends entirely on your organization.” — 4 moves from Red Auerbach's "57 Strategies" that players still do today

LeBron James, Chris Paul, and James Harden are just some of the greats who have picked up a thing or two from the great Red Auerbach.
Boston Celtics head coach Red Auerbach

Red Auerbach

There’s no denying that Red Auerbach is one of the most influential coaches in basketball history. Apart from his basketball philosophies, Auerbach also affected the game through his “57 Strategies” which he enumerated in his book “Basketball for the Player, the Fan and the Coach.” He prefaced it with a great statement: “How many of these you consider ethical or unethical depends entirely on your organization. I am merely listing them as things that can happen.

Some of these 57 strategies are dated. But some of them are still practiced by players today. Let’s walk through some of them.

“Grabbing or pulling the pants or shirt of the opponent can be very aggravating”

This seems like a practice that originated along school hallways or playgrounds. Kids, especially in the pre-internet days, did everything literally for a quick laugh or two — even if it involved shaming their friends.

When kids become grown-ups, specifically professional basketball players, pulling one’s shorts down carries strategic value. Al Harrington tried to immobilize Paul Pierce in one play. Other plays intentionally pull their shorts down to distract the opposing team. It’s on a case-to-case basis. The main objective is to get the upper hand on your foe.

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“When the other team is given possession of the ball from an official’s decision, don’t throw the ball directly to an opponent. The ball should be thrown rather slowly to the official. This will give your men time to get set on defense.”

Not many clips show this sneaky technique, proving that it’s basketball’s best-kept secret. But watch games more closely, and you’ll see some players practice Auerbach’s tactic. It may occur in an ordinary possession or a clutch situation with no timeouts left. This is something that Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul would do because he’s the type of guy who wants to get every advantage, no matter how silly.

“Faking injuries is used for many reasons”

We’re not in the 3-point era; we’re also in the age of the flop. James Harden, Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Bruce Bowen are just some of the usual suspects. When Bruce Bowen was around, flopping was utilized only for defensive purposes, especially when he used to sell offensive fouls.

But during James Harden’s rise to elite status, the Beard showed us you could flop when you are on offense, too. And flopping doesn’t just involve throwing your body to the floor. As Harden has shown us, it can include kicking your feet toward your opponent to draw a shooting foul.

“Some players may agitate their opponents by incessant chatter, refusing to talk to them at all, or even ridicule”

This technique has been practiced by all of the great basketball players in history. We all know the legendary trash talkers like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Gary Payton, Kevin Garnett, and a slew of others. At the elite level, basketball isn’t just a physical sport. It’s a mind game. And talking smack is the best way to mess with your opponent’s headspace.

At the other end of the spectrum are those who refuse to talk. The list is pretty short: Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard. Duncan and Leonard would either score on you or dunk on you and they would not show any emotion. Do you want to know how it feels like talking to a wall or an inanimate object? Talk smack to Duncan or Leonard.

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