I was born decades after the Great Depression, so I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. James Naismith. I know that he wanted a game without contact but to make an honest attempt at that goal, players on defense should not be allowed to slide in front of players on offense whose feet are at most one second away from leaving the floor. Yet in 2023, a couple of defenders playing this gimmick defense led to Ja Morant and Giannis Antetokounmpo suffering injuries that could impact this postseason.
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The way that children are taught to play defense at a local gym is to move their feet and reach with their hands as infrequently as possible. What they are not instructed to do is step in front of a player gathering momentum to make a grand leap. However, once game results can eventually get a grownup fired if unsuccessful ones add up, waist-high tripping becomes encouraged.
That type of defense resulted in Antetokounmpo and Morant taking nasty spills on Sunday. Let’s hope they’ll be able to play like top-10 NBA players sometime soon this postseason, but the fact that their health is in a precarious situation is a failure of the entire sport.
This is getting stupid
Of course an offensive player should not be allowed to run over a defender. Basketball is not football. Dr. Naismith would want players to change direction and avoid the defender. That should be no different in 2023, but defenders should not be allowed to seek contact.
It’s bad enough that the NBA has to continue to try and legislate flopping out of the game. The foul that could be created by an offensive player backing up into a defender was ridiculous. In a perfect world, no player should be allowed to create contact and be rewarded with a favorable foul call.
Even though Trae Young and James Harden were gaming the system with those fouls, at least it was unlikely that a player would get hurt as a result. Morant and Antetokounmpo both took spills that resulted in them having to leave the floor because an opposing player decided to not play basketball the way that it was designed to be played.
Players standing tall and still while an opposing player is barreling down the lane is courageous. If Antetokounmpo is a full two steps ahead and does not attempt to avoid the defender, the giant should be called for an offensive foul. But if he sees an opening and the defender gets to that spot at the same time and shuns verticality with the sole goal of drawing a foul, that should not be rewarded.
Not everyone is going to be like Frédéric Weis and give the offensive player time to clear his entire body. They are going to step in at the last possible second, and present a risk to a player who has the intent to fly over and not barrel through.
Enough with trying to draw the charge
There are plenty of offensive fouls that can be called in organized basketball, and maybe those should be called more regularly. These last second attempts to take a charge though, need to be sent away like the old NBA illegal defense rule. Allowing players to play defense like this is like allowing a car on the expressway to wait until the last possible second, and then launch into the lane of an approaching car.
If that car gets rear ended it’s the fault of the car behind it, but that scenario is lame. Also, if the accident took place a half second sooner the jerk car would have gotten hit on the side and would be at fault.
How about let’s drive cars and play defense like respectable human beings instead of putting other’s well-being at risk and waiting on the authorities to rule on a technicality.
Original source here
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