NEW YORK — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he was “on the fence” about intentional fouling away from the ball and expects the league to be “very engaged” about the tactic over the coming months.
One day after the San Antonio Spurs sent the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan to the free-throw line 17 times in a playoff victory, Silver said he once favored a rule change but now isn’t pushing for one.
“I’ve gone back and forth,” Silver said during a meeting with a group of Associated Press Sports Editors. “I’ve sat in meetings with some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird who said that players should learn to make their free throws and it’s part of the game. At the same time, it doesn’t make for great television, so I’m on the fence right now.”
Silver said he finds it to be a “fascinating” strategy in some cases.
“But in other games I watch it and I think, ‘Oh my god, I feel people changing the channels,'” he said. “So we’re also an entertainment property that’s competing against a lot of other options that people have for their discretionary time.”
Coaches use the strategy to disrupt an opposing team by fouling a poor free-throw shooter, playing the percentages that he won’t make both shots. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has said he doesn’t like the way it looks, but he has used it against Shaquille O’Neal — against whom it got the nickname Hack-a-Shaq — and now against the Clippers’ Jordan, who went 6 of 17 on Wednesday in San Antonio’s 111-107 overtime victory.
Abolishing the tactic, also used against Dwight Howard, has been discussed before, but coaches wanted the option to use it. Silver said he expects it to be discussed by general managers at their meeting in May and by the competition committee in June.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images