Larry Bird used to tell players how he would beat them and then do it. He would taunt players, coaches, refs, fans…anybody who was within eye and earshot. He also had some of the nastiest glares to somebody he had just burned…One of those long, 50 yard stares that would immediately break into a shiv fight in the yard. He would get chin to chin with anybody to let them know that he was Larry Legend and they were not. If you didn’t like it and wanted to take it further, he would oblige them and away we went to fisticuffs….And you know what? Unless the fight elevated to some serious knuckles connecting and the result being bloody, puffy and bruised faces that resembled a modern day Rhonda Rousey victim…there was NO WAY you were getting thrown out of that game! Do have any idea the kind of glaring and trash talking that went on with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley, Charles Oakley, Shaq..anybody from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s?
And then it happened tonight in Los Angeles. The Utah Jazz were visiting the Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers forward Ed Davis dunked the ball and then turned and gave a “look” TOWARDS a Utah Jazz player that was close to the play and towards the bench area as well. Can you believe the balls on this kid Davis? He glared at somebody? You know what happened after this absolute hard wood atrocity? Well, a REAL atrocity happened. The Laker forward had a technical foul whistled on him.
The sad part about this is that if you are 25 and younger, you aren’t shocked by this and might actually agree that this kind of scowling and trash staring has no place in today’s “we’re all friends and this is just a game” National Basketball Association. This kinder and gentler league is what former NBA boss man David Stern had been working on for years before he left and current commish Adam Silver has kept that dream alive and well.
The NBA is beyond petrified that any kind of emotional chatting between foes on the court could turn into the “Malace at the Palace Part 2”. Not sure who I would cast since Ben Wallace and Ron Artest are no longer available for a possible sequel. For those who didn’t see the 2004 original NBA film, Mr. Wallace had shoved Mr. Artest who back pedaled. Ron, Ron had then found his way over to the scorers table where he chilled on top it horzontally for a bit. Then some jack-hole tossed a beer that landed right onto his chest. Artest ran into the stands and then the rest was history.
What was gained was an understanding that this would never happen again. What was lost was the understanding between the difference between dudes shoving and talking and an actual street fight breaking out. Personal discretion was taken out of the ref’s hands and were told in a very paint by number class kind of way, what was ok and what wasn’t.
A singular technical foul divided like a cell and split into 2…A flagrant 1 and a flagrant 2…Huh? What? Unfortunately that reaction has gone by the waist-side. This is not progression. This is an over-reaction that has drained the true emotion to certain aspects of the game. Not all ballers can ball like some of the best. Sometimes you have dudes who were put on this NBA planet to get under a guy’s skin…Let them chat….Let them glare…..It’s gamesmanship…..Its a major strategy that has been stripped away from the game…. and it absolutely stinks…(glaring at the computer screen)Do I get a flagrant 1 or 2 for this article?