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WHERE FOULS ARE FAIR
Leigh Montville
November 09, 1987
Sure, rules are rules. But in the NBA, officials allow an extra step, a palm here and there, a push and a shove or a bonus tick of the clock just to let the players play
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November 09, 1987

Where Fouls Are Fair

Sure, rules are rules. But in the NBA, officials allow an extra step, a palm here and there, a push and a shove or a bonus tick of the clock just to let the players play

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I am playing against you in the driveway. I am the Los Angeles Lakers. You are the Boston Celtics. We are playing for the National Basketball Association championship once again on a Sunday afternoon.

"Foul," you say.

"No foul," I say.

I am Magic and you are Larry. I am Kareem and you are the Chief, Robert Parish. I am James Worthy and you are Kevin McHale. Anytime the ball hits the Dodge Caravan it is out-of-bounds. All shots from behind the rosebush are worth three points.

"Foul," you repeat.

"Forget it," I say.

I can dunk the ball, of course, and you also can dunk. Both hands. Behind your head. Backward, arm into the hole up to the elbow. I can dribble behind my back. You can dribble between your legs. On the move. Full speed. I have perfected Kareem's skyhook, the most devastating shot ever invented.

Uh-oh. You have perfected Bird's little running hook, left-handed, almost impossible to defend. We both can hit jumpers from anywhere. I flash a Magic smile when I make mine. You step back to take yours the way Larry does.

We play a different game from the one most people play. This is not high school basketball. This is not college basketball. Our size and skills have moved us into a bigger, more ferocious type of basketball. Higher. Wider. Faster. Stronger. We are always bumping each other. Pushing. Scuffling.

I am 7'2", 270 pounds. You are 7'1", 240. I am touching you somewhere on your body every time you have the ball. You are touching me every time I have the ball. How can we miss each other? There is constant, grumpy contact.

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