The NBA is skewing more European these days in more ways than just players. After the 2021 Olympics, the league adopted some of the leniency those refs showed in regards to seeking out fouls. There were a few objections early in the season, but the complaints pivoted toward inconsistency like they usually do.
It’s safe to say that ridding the game of players lurching into defenders for no other reason than to draw a foul was a good thing. People who regard searching for calls — not drawing contact, that’s different — as a skill probably get off on loopholes and tax breaks and fast-break stopping fouls. Well, sorry to snuff out another oily tactic, but the league approved a rule change late Tuesday to try to discourage highlight-preventing fouls.
If a ref rules that a player committed a take foul, the opposing team will get to shoot one free throw by a player of its choosing (who’s already on the court) and the ball. That’s essentially straight out of the FIBA rulebook; the only difference is it’s two shots and the ball overseas. The other caveat is the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtimes are exempt.
OK, cool, but what does that do about the clear runway that was taken away from Miles Bridges or Jaylen Brown? Are we getting a two-on-one side-out alley-oop? Nope? If the NBA really wanted to have its highlight and have it count, too, it would take a Euro step not to FIBA but to FIFA.
It already has the continuation rule, so why try an advantage rule? If you foul a player who’s in the middle of starting a break then the play should continue as it does in soccer with a foul assessed during the next stoppage. That preserves the windmill dunk while also penalizing the fouler. And to clarify, there wouldn’t be an and-one opportunity tacked onto an advantage either. Any three- or four-point would have to come like it usually does: From an in-the-act foul. And transgressions that take place during an advantage also would count. It’s an advantage, not martial law.
If the team blows the dunk or misses the transition 3 it’s their fault, but the foul still applies. It’s up to the player in the moment, though, to stop and take the free throws if they’re in the bonus. As far as fouling out during an advantage is concerned, the violator can play until the next dead ball, at which point he’ll be subbed out.
The devil’s advocate side of this is the fouls could in theory become more intense to prevent the play from staying alive. To that I say, have you seen what constitutes a flagrant these days? If you want to form tackle T.J. McConnell to stop a layup, feel free, but that’ll probably get you kicked out of the game if not suspended as well.
It could be something to workshop in the G League before implementation. The take fouls are a step in the right direction — unless they’re going to add more video reviews. If it’s executed like FIBA where the refs exert authoritarian-like control that can’t be challenged, then it’ll be fine.
However, the last thing any NBA fan wants is more refs huddled in front of a monitor, trying to figure out Final Jeopardy like they’re Sean Connery. Scott Foster and Co. better figure out “What is a take foul?” quickly or the product will be stepped on more than it is already.
That’s really what Adam Silver is striving for though — pure uncut NBA basketball that’s dangerously addictive with fast breaks so raucous they’ll give you a heart attack. Take fouls help further that cause, but playing advantage would kick it up to feverish levels.
And sports so good they’ll affect brain composition is all anybody really wanted in the first place. Well, that or literal free cocaine, but we’re more than a rule tweak away from that one.