NEW YORK– The NBA players association is planning legal action over the league’s decision to issue more technical fouls for complaining.
Billy Hunter, the executive director of the union, said in a statement Thursday that the players weren’t consulted about the rules changes, which he called “an unnecessary and unwarranted overreaction” by the league.
“We intend to file an appropriate legal challenge,” Hunter said.
The NBA has told players they will be whistled for technicals for overt gestures, even if they aren’t directed at a referee, running up to an official to contest a call, or other actions that don’t show proper respect for the game.
“I went to a private school growing up. We had a lot of crazy rules, rules that we didn’t agree with, rules that we necessarily didn’t think was good. But we just had to do them,” Orlando center Dwight Howard said. “So they want us to cut down on talking to the refs, as hard as that may be, because basketball is very emotional, we just have to try our best.”
There figures to be a rise in technical fouls, which come with heavier fines this season. There were four called in a 16-second span of Boston’s exhibition victory over New York on Wednesday, with Celtics All-Star Kevin Garnett being ejected after picking up two of them for arguing.
“I think it affects everybody, because it’s such an emotional game. But that’s the rule,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “So you have to control your emotions and you have to be smart about it. And it’s difficult – especially for the players at times. And the rule is probably going to change the outcomes of games at times.”
The league put the policy in place this season after saying its research showed fans felt that the players complained too much, which Hunter disputes.
“We have not seen any increase in the level of ‘complaining’ to the officials and we believe that players as a whole have demonstrated appropriate behavior toward the officials,” Hunter said. “Worse yet, to the extent the harsher treatment from the referees leads to a stifling of the players’ passion and exuberance for their work, we fear these changes may actually harm our product.”
Besides warning of more techs, the NBA doubled the cost of them. Players and coaches are now docked $2,000 for each of their first five, all the way up to $5,000 starting at No. 16, along with a one-game suspension for every other technical.
“Players have definitely spent some time missing games because of technical fouls, which is unfortunate. But that’s the penalty if you get too many technical fouls. And there’s a fine for it, too. They already raised the technical fouls by $1,000 this year,” Clippers center Chris Kaman said.
“I think I had one year where I had like 11, and it’s just stupid. I mean, I look back and I think: ‘Hey, that’s $11,000 I could have had in my pocket. So shut your mouth.'”
It’s the second time the players have responded to the league’s plans to call more techs by threatening legal action. They filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board early in the 2006-07 season, when the league’s crackdown on griping was referred to as a “zero tolerance policy.”