Back when Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant force in the NBA, several teams utilized the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy that essentially turned every Los Angeles Lakers possession into an opportunity to see a gigantic man attempt to shoot a ball through a small hoop even though he was really, really bad at it. It was slow, lacked flow, and generally had very little to do with the reasons fans like watching NBA basketball. So David Stern and the NBA’s competition committee created a new rule: fouling off the ball in the last two minutes of the game would give the fouled team two shots and the ball.
The tactic disappeared for a while, in part because Shaq became less effective and also because no truly dominant players proved to be sub-50 percent free-throw shooters. However, this season has seen a massive uptick in “Hack-a-Shaq” incidents, primarily because Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is shooting below 50 percent from the line for the second consecutive season. But other players have become targets, as well, including Detroit Pistons rookie Andre Drummond (Slay-a-Dre) and Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan (Hack-a-DJ, which is not an off-brand remake of “PaRappa the Rapper” ).
Coaches employ it because it works. But it’s also pretty terrible to watch, which Stern seems to have noticed once again. While guesting on the New Orleans Hornets broadcast Wednesday night, he commented on his desire to stamp out the tactic with another rule change. From Henry Abbott for TrueHoop :
Stern was quick to point out that the league has instituted a rule that successfully stopped the tactic in the last two minutes of games: Foul a player away from the ball, and after the the free throw, the fouled team gets the ball back. The penalty is so steep that the tactical advantage of fouling is gone.
Stern said he wanted to make that rule last all game.