Heisler: Another way of saying ‘Dirty play’–‘Playoff basketball’

This BS has got to stop, all right.

Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle was right, noting “The dirty BS has to stop,” after losing Games 1-2 in Oklahoma City, not that a lot of tears were shed at seeing his defending world champions’ hair, and skeletal systems, mussed up.

The Mavs play as rough as anyone, as Carlisle all but conceded in his plea for humanity.

“Playoff basketball is physical,” said Carlisle. “We don’t like the cheap shots when they give them. They don’t like them if we give them.”

So it’s justice of a sort—Frontier Justice—with the Thunder targeting Dirk Nowitzki, highlighted by a sequence in which Serge Ibaka gets away with raking him across the face on one jumper, after which Kendrick Perkins does his Kendrick Perkins number.

Remember Malcolm McDowell and his Droogies, the malevolent gang from the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece “Clockwork Orange?”

Anyone who still has the Thunder mixed up with a Boy Scout troop, check out this.

Unfortunately, this won’t wind up being much rougher than the other series, unless the Knicks, Jazz and Nuggets, who are half-way to being swept, are too demoralized to resort to discreet violence.

There’s another term for “Dirty BS.” It’s “playoff basketball.”

In spite of all the rules, suspensions and fines aimed at stamping out violence, the game is getting rougher—and dirtier—all the time.

Here’s something you can depend on:

Whatever system the league puts in, the coaches will test it to its limits.

In an age in which cocking your fist can get you suspended, fighting ceased being a problem long ago.

I can’t remember the last time anyone landed a punch, as opposed to just running out on the floor (ka-ching!)…. unless you want to count Carmelo Anthony’s wild haymaker while backing up that grazed Mardy Collins in the 2006 Knick-Nugget incident when a great deal of milling around, one wrestling match that spilled into the courtside seats and Melo’s drive-by “punch” got seven players suspended for a total of 47 games.

Unfortunately, “hard fouls” haven’t gone anywhere. If they aren’t always dirty, they escalate hostilities as surely as arms lead to arms races.

With flagrant foul rules obliging players to make it look good, they’re no longer capable of acts as wanton as those in the Golden Age of Violence when Kevin McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis in the 1983 Finals without even getting a technical foul.

That part of the game has changed.

“No layups” remains a fundamental coaching principle that’s dialed up along with everything else in post-season urgency. “Hard fouls” are still considered kosher, whether or not you’re actually making a play on the ball.

As opposed to eliminating “hard fouls” and the “dirty” excesses they lead to, network color commentators commonly explain the right way to do it:

Herewith, the rules for NBA mayhem:

–If you’re taking a hard foul, make sure the guy can’t get off the shot.

–Go for his arms. He shoots with those.

–If you can’t make sure that he doesn’t get the shot off, let him go, as opposed to letting him make it and send him to the line to make it a three-point play.

–For bonus points in this NBA version of the bounty system, step over the SOB while he’s laying there. This shows who the Alpha Males around here are.

Around here, the hits keep happening.

Take the Clippers Blake Griffin, or, as opponents look at it, take his legs out from under him.

With Griffin’s incredible strength and quickness, he’s impossible to guard if sagging off him and conceding him the outside shot doesn’t work.

What to do if you find yourself close enough to the basket for him to jump right over the top of you, even if you’re a seven-footer like Timofey Mozgov, or have a fearsome rep like Perkins?

Foul the living crap out of him.

This is so standard, the Lakers’ Matt Barnes shoved Griffin to the floor in an exhibition game.

The trend held up through April when the Suns’ Robin Lopez did a McHale imitation on Griffin’s neck.

Here’s the funny part, unless you’re Griffin:

Blake now has a bad rep as a crybaby among the referees, who don’t always catch the mayhem and don’t like it when he goes to them in disbelief.

Of course, what makes violence so appealing to coaches is, it’s available to all, not just the good teams.

Imagine you’re Utah Coach Ty Corbin, whose team was just blown away by the Spurs in Games 1 and 2, with the press asking, “Now, what?”

You check your options:

Get better?

Good idea but not likely.


Won’t look good in the papers, plus costs us the gate for two home games.

How about insisting you’re going to “keep fighting?”

That’s it!

Of course, if they ask what you mean by that….

“Fight may be the wrong word,” said Corbin, laughing. “Bump. Well, you can’t bump, either.”

It’s OK, his players understand, with Devin Harris giving out coy hints that Tony Parker, who burned them for 28 points, was due for “a hard foul or two.”

You know how those good teams are. If you hold Parker to 18 in Game 2, as Utah did, the Spurs may figure out another way to beat you even worse, 113-84.

There really is a way to end his BS:

Forget proscribing flagrant fouls, defined as those in which someone knocks the stuffing out of someone else.

Proscribe all intentional fouls.

If it’s not a legitimate play on the ball, it’s two shots and possession.

Then tell the refs to err on the side of protecting the shooter.

When hard fouls are no longer cost-effective, coaches will stop coaching them and players will stop committing them.
Unfortunately, that day hasn’t come and as far as the violence goes, this is just the first round.

Stick around, it only goes one way from here.

Mark Heisler is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops, LakersNation and the Old Gray Lady. His power rankings appear Wednesday and his columns appear Thursday. Follow him on Twitter.


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