Skip to main content

Red Auerbach's message to coaches and players “Let's clean this thing up. Let's not hurt the game.”

Red-Auerbach

Let’s not hurt the game.” That's how Red Auerbach finished a video in which he appealed to remove a problematic phenomenon from basketball - players intentionally falling to provoke a foul call. The fact this happened in the mid-1970s isn't even the best part. It's who the message was directed to.

40-20

Social media and a lot of websites were full of the Suns reaching a 40-9 record, qualifying for the Phil Jackson "40-20" rule. For those who don't know, Phil Jackson once said a team is a contender if they reach 40 wins before they have 20 losses.

It was a thing he mentioned to Mark Stein around 15 years ago, and Stein included it in his article on ESPN. No major analysis behind it, a rule of thumb really - but if you read about it today, it's "Phil Jackson's theory," talked about like it's one of the 10 commandments.

What Jackson basically said was that if a team has a 66% win rate 60 games into an 82 game season, they're a good team. The little detail about getting to 40 wins BEFORE having 20 losses makes it seem very specific, but it's just a general observation - a quite obvious one.

Jackson didn't talk about it as if it was a major breakthrough in data analysis, nor did Stein portray it as such in his article. But things slowly get mentioned, aggregated, and suddenly became something they're not. For instance, the overall belief that Vlade Divac brought the plague of flopping to the NBA.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Flopping

The Serbian center came to the NBA in 1989, and if you were to believe a lot of articles and social media posts, did for flopping what Manu Ginobili did for the euro step. Coming from a country and a continent where soccer is an undisputed no.1, it would make sense Divac and the rest of the Europeans shamelessly flopped while the football-loving tough Americans tried to play a tough game, right?

For everyone convinced that's a true interpretation, I have to break it to you; you are wrong. While Divac was just a little boy starting school, one of the greatest coaches and NBA executives of all time was already ringing the bells to alarm the NBA community that flopping is ruining the game. Yep, there was so much flopping during the tough 70s when men played the game (not like the whining primadonnas we have today) that Red Auerbach had to do something about it.

"Coaches today in high school, college and pro, are teaching the players how to fall! This is unreal!"

Red Auerbach

The most fascinating exchange is between Red and Hall of Fame referee Mendy Rudolph. They continue to play out a few scenarios, and Rudolph gives suggestions on how the refs should penalize the player who's flopping to eliminate it out of the game. But Auerbach held someone else responsible. Red agreed, said he was "very much opposed to this king of basketball," and then pointed out the refs shouldn't be the one removing flopping out of the game.

This segment is not aimed at referees, believe me. It’s aimed at coaches, it’s aimed at players. What are we going to do about it?

Let’s clean this thing up.

Let’s not hurt the game.

Red Auerbach

I am sad to say Red's message fell on deaf ears.

bill-russell-shaq-min

Bill Russell once explained how he would defend Shaq: "He has to carry that weight up and down!"

A duel between the most dominant big man ever and the best defensive player in history would be a true showdown.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Most epic on-court trash talk moments caught on camera

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James all dropped epic lines to hush their foes.

Houston Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks

One-hit wonder — whatever happened to Houston Rockets’ Aaron Brooks?

Aaron Brooks played like an All-Star player in 2009-2010 season. However, his performances dipped due to injuries and alleged attitude problems.

Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller, Utah Jazz guard John Stockton, Scottie Pippen forward Chicago Bulls

Reggie Miller on why Scottie Pippen was the X-Factor in the Bulls' NBA Finals wins against the Jazz

Scottie Pippen has literally contained the best point guards in NBA history.

San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, center David Robinson and center Kevin Willis

”We might not want to grab him” - Kevin Willis says Tim Duncan and David Robinson hesitated to throw him into a pool when he first arrived in San Antonio

Former San Antonio Spurs center Kevin Willis recalled his hilarious and epic first meeting with Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

“There are many days I don't want to be around people and I'm a nasty person” — Michael Jordan opens up about why he doesn’t like showing himself to the public

Throughout his playing days, Michael Jordan hinted why he prefers to stay away from the public spotlight, and true enough, he carries that persona in retirement.

ben-simmons-russell-westbrook-min

Ben Simmons gets heated after a fan roasts him to his face: "Hey Russell Westbrook! Can't shoot bro?"

The comedian known for clowning NBA players went up to Simmons at the mall, but the Nets star was not having it.