Fines, too many rules and too many fouls are making the NBA soft


Scott Wilson, Staff Reporter

If you watch basketball, specifically the NBA, you know how exciting it can be to witness history every night. Teams like the Warriors are breaking 3-point records seamlessly, and the king himself, LeBron James, is coming closer and closer to surpassing Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all time.

But past legends of the game like Sonics defensive legend Gary Payton and hall of famer Charles Barkley criticize the game for becoming too soft. They’re not wrong. Refs these days seem to call a foul the moment a defensive player touches the guy with the ball. Gary Payton tweeted back in 2016,

“I could never play basketball in this soft era, all of my contract money would go towards fines.”

Fines can come from players just pushing each other, whereas refs would allow that in the 80’s and 90’s.

I understand that the league is promoting player safety and professionalism, but the game has a whole different playing style to it now. One of my favorite players and hall of famer Kobe Bryant told ESPN,

“It’s more of a finesse game, more small-ball, which I don’t care for.”

This is why 3-point specialists like Steph Curry have so much success. They don’t play physical, and defenders who want to play tight defense on them get called for fouls from just grazing their arm when they shoot. The game went from physical smash-mouth basketball to requiring only skill and no heart.

Some NBA analysts believe the league is protecting players like Kevin Durant who have a skinnier frame and wouldn’t be able to have their way in the paint because they’d get “bullied” by defenders who are stronger and more physical. I believe that needs to be part of the game. Durant needs to either find a different way to score or hit the weight room and bulk up. The NBA is rooted in tough physicality and it’s evolving into sensitive gameplay that will push out big men and turn everyone into 5-guard shooting teams.

These new rules were implemented in the 2000’s and NBA referees seemed to love them, even exploit them. Back in 2007, one of the most calm, level-headed legends you will ever watch play was ejected from a game for laughing, just laughing. Veteran referee Joey Crawford ejected Tim Duncan after a foul was called and Duncan sat on the bench laughing because he believed it was a bad call. I don’t know if Crawford was holding on to his pride and showing Duncan who the boss was, but it seemed like he let his emotions get the best of him.

Players have been criticizing refs profusely for calling too many fouls and they have the right to criticize. Watching today’s games, it seems like if a controversial play occurs and the referees aren’t sure whether it’s a foul or not, they’ll call foul every time. Players take advantage of that and flop because they know their best chance to get points is going to the free throw line. If refs could just leave their whistle alone sometimes we would be taking a step in the right direction.