The NBA’s recent decision about counting down Giannis at the free-throw line shows all their weakness

The NBA’s recent decision about counting down Giannis at the free-throw line shows all their weakness

Yet again, the NBA has proven they have no backbone when it comes to enforcing rules on players. Most often, the NBA under Adam Silver has been described as “player-friendly” – but we all know what happens when people stop hearing “no.” The road to spoiled rotten is paved with good intentions. 

Ratings are down again this year, and while we can speculate about the impact the politicization of the NBA had on those numbers, one thing is for sure. 48 minutes of basketball shouldn’t last for over 2 hours. The number of commercials crammed into an NBA game is absurd, and it’s ruining the product. To try and offset this issue, one of the things the league did was to limit the time players can take between free throws to 10 seconds. It started with Russell Westbrook walking all the way to center court between shots, taking his sweet time while we all waited to see him brick or airball yet another free throw. 

This year, the main culprit in breaking this rule – a rule the NBA implemented itself – is Giannis Antetokounmpo. After numerous videos of this trending on Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit, we finally saw the rule implemented in the playoffs. Working as an assistant coach for Miami, Caron Butler warned the refs about the 10 seconds, and they called it. Ever since then, teams have put a 10 second counter on their jumbotron so the fans can count out the seconds while Giannis is at the free-throw line. So what did the NBA do?  

The explanation from the NBA Office is that “the league doesn’t advocate teams inciting the taunting of other players.” According to the Oxford Dictionary, taunting is the “intention to provoke someone in an insulting or contemptuous manner.” I don’t think it’s insulting to count down the 10-second rule the NBA implemented itself. More importantly, even if one accepts this may set a bad precedent, there’s a better way to deal with this situation. Tell the refs to call the violation?!?

People didn’t start counting down for their own amusement. They started counting down because for the entire regular season, which has fewer and fewer viewers every year, Giannis broke the rule and got away with it. Same with moving screens, flopping, foul hunting, and traveling – the league makes it “a point of emphasis,” enforces it for the first few games of the season, and as soon as it gets some media coverage, it’s back to the same old story. 

This template of addressing the symptom and not the cause and worrying about PR more than the integrity of the game is the slippery slope the NBA and Adam Silver got themselves on. Even if counting down is a problem (which I vehemently disagree with), it most definitely isn’t the biggest problem with the Giannis-shooting-free-throws situation or the product in general. 

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