NBA's zero-tolerance policy has players in a tizzy
Posted: Wednesday October 25, 2006 1:40PM; Updated: Thursday October 26, 2006 7:27PM
Rasheed Wallace thinks he's being targeted in the NBA's revved-up enforcement of excessive complaining.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
The new basketball isn't the only thing that has NBA players grumbling this preseason. Many are upset about the crackdown by refs on excessive complaining and whining. It's being called the "Zero Tolerance Policy," though the league objects to that description.
There is no new rule, but refs have received a mandate to clean up some of the over-the-top whining and gesticulating by players. When a player is deemed to cross the line, he gets hit with a technical -- and the automatic $1,000 fine that goes along with it.
It's just the latest example of David Stern trying to clean up the league's image in the aftermath of the Pistons-Pacers brawl two years ago. In fairness to the league, it notes that it is not a zero tolerance policy at all, and that officials will continue to allow captains to seek explanations and plead their cases. But some players feel the crackdown is draconian.
"You can't really speak to the refs. The refs don't want to hear it," Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett said after watching teammates Mark Blount and Marko Jaric pick up Ts in an exhibition against the Bucks. "That's almost like Communism. That's like Castro."
What really irks players about the new edict is that it will hit them in the pocket book. Players are fined $1,000 for each of their first five technicals, with an increase of $500 for each five after that, capped by a $2,500 penalty for each one starting with the 16th. A one-game suspension also comes at that point and for every technical thereafter.
For a guy such as Rasheed Wallace, it could add up to some serious coin. That might be why the volatile Pistons veteran was among the first players to go public with his gripes.
"It's just another 'Sheed Wallace rule," he told the Detroit News. "It just means I must be doing something right. Any time they change the rules of the game for one specific player, you must be doing something right."
But if Wallace and others think they can get the league to reverse course, they are going to be disappointed. Like last year's dress code requirement and this year's switch to the new microfiber basketball, the NBA appears to be fully within its rights.
"I'm not sure there's anything we could do about it," said one players association official who wished to remain anonymous. "We'll monitor it to see how far it goes, but as of right now we have no plans to fight it."
As a result, here are my top 10 players with the most to fear from the new "Zero Tolerance" edict: