NBA Referees Discuss Points of Emphasis for the Upcoming Season
There were two distinct parts to the presentation: the part about the actual rules of the game that will be watched more closely, and the more controversial part about trying to limit players' complaining by cracking down on emotional outbursts with increased technical fouls being issued for these violations.
Some of the rules that the league will be looking at with more scrutiny shouldn't really be that surprising (or interesting) to most fans. They're fairly basic things like traveling before putting the ball on the floor or changing pivot foots, players setting screens with their legs positioned wider than the width of their shoulders, charge/block situations where the officials will use whether or not a defender has established a "legal guarding position" to determine who's to blame, and giving the defender the benefit of the call in situations where contact has been made in the air and the verticality principle -- where the defender jumped up, and not toward the man with the ball -- has been met.
The emotional component, however, is going to be a bit tougher to quantify.
The video that covers this component of the rule enforcement which was shown to the media (and that the league is going around and showing to all 30 teams) was entitled "Respect for the Game." Basically what that means is that the league has determined that excessive complaining from the players about foul calls is something they want to greatly reduce, so they're trying to take it down several notches.
And the only way to do that is by calling more technical fouls.
The explanation on what will warrant a technical under the new rules seemed straightforward enough, at least in an off-the-court setting. Any gestures toward an official (or even away from one) that are deemed to be overt or excessive will be grounds for a technical foul. This can include claps or "air-punches" as demonstrations of disagreement against a call, or even excessive discussions with a referee over the course of a game about a multitude of calls.
Aggressively approaching a ref to complain will get a player rung up, as will running across the court at an official, even in a non-threatening manner.
So, what can the players do to vent their frustration about a call? According to the officials, a player is allowed a quick reaction, as long as he stays within himself, and keeps it brief. Additionally, players are allowed to ask about a call and receive an answer, as long as they let it go after that. If the question is "asked and answered," it needs to end there, according to the new rules of enforcement.
If it's a borderline situation, the referees have been instructed to use warnings as a way to slow things down so they don't have to issue non-stop technical fouls. Additionally, it was said that if a referee didn't happen to see a player's reaction due to turning away immediately after making a call (either intentionally or unintentionally), that a player who "should" get hit with a T might go unpunished.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, and, most importantly, if these emotional outbursts are consistently enforced by the league throughout the entire season. It's something that's sure to be closely-watched by the fans, and even more closely-monitored by the coaches, who will ultimately be responsible for keeping their players in check.
Suns head coach Alvin Gentry seemed to have no problem with the league's increased focus on ridding itself of complaining about the officiating.
"The game needed to be cleaned up, and they did a good job," Gentry said. "There probably was too much complaining. It's a great game we play, and that's the way it should be -- just play the game."