Unwritten rules exist in any sport. They are not found officially in any rule book but observed based on common understanding between players and coaches. However, in this day and age, are unwritten rules still relevant? Former Los Angeles Lakers player Mychal Thompson shared his strong opinion on the matter.
Russell Westbrook ejection in a loss against the Thunder
With the game already settled, OKC's Darius Bazley stole the ball and dunked it on the other end. That did not sit well with Russell Westbrook, who confronted Bazley and got himself an ejection with only seconds remaining in the game. The final score was 123-115 in favor of OKC, but the bizarre ending stirred up discussion about unwritten rules.
Westbrook, as a veteran, disliked the move by the younger player. It was a sign of disrespect to still attempt to score with the victory already secured for Oklahoma City. It adds salt to the wound of the opposing team. Bazley did not commit any violation, but context matters in this situation.
In some cases, bench players who rarely get playing time would likely score last-minute baskets to add to their stats or prove they are deserving of longer playing time. Also, every score counts in games where the quotient of scores matters to determine the order of seedings heading to the playoffs. But should the opposing teams have a problem with that?
Mychal Thompson, who retired in 1992 after playing 12 seasons in the league, shared his opinion on it via his Twitter account, saying that unwritten rules are a thing of the past. He added in a separate Tweet that the Lakers should have won the game to stop potential last-minute dunk attempts.
Are unwritten rules still relevant?
Unwritten rules are basically an ethics code for any sport. It’s like a gentleman’s agreement between players and coaches. It’s not a violation if a player decides to break such rules. And they come in many different forms.
Aside from disrespecting the losing team with attempting to score when the game’s already decided, there’s also the “don’t deliberately miss shots to record a triple-double” unwritten rule.
Ricky Davis attempted it in 2003 with the Cleveland Cavaliers leading by 25 over the Utah Jazz. Davis intentionally missed a layup on their own court so he could add a rebound to reach a triple-double. As you would have guessed, he got shoved by a Jazz player immediately. Not only was the move unsportsmanlike, but it also looked dumb.
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You control what you can inside the basketball court. If other players decide to increase offensive output or put a windmill at the end of the game, he has every right to do so. Unwritten rules are a thing of the past and a generational thing that players use to excuse behaving in some way.
So if players don't want to feel disrespected, they should win the ball game or keep the scores close. It's as simple as that.