That's it. Conversation over. There has been a lot of opinions focused around the use of the intentional foul the past few years, but it has really picked up steam this postseason. I have always had the same opinion on it. It needs to go. Thank God the Rockets stepped in and showed everyone exactly how detrimental it is to the game on a national stage. Listen, I understand that players should be able to make their free throws. I genuinely don't comprehend how there are NBA players that shoot well under 50% from the line when I play basketball 5 times a year and somehow shoot better than that. Free throw shooting is absolutely a part of the game and it shouldn't be abolished just because it is a huge weakness in the game of a dozen or so players in the NBA. However, let's look at why the foul shot was created. It's safe to say the implementation of the foul shot was to reward players with an opportunity to score after they had been fouled in the act of trying to score. It wasn't implemented so a guy who is nowhere near the ball would get patted down for a series of plays at a time and the game could be slowed down to grinding halt. If anything, the 'Hack-A-Shaq' strategy is basically a loophole. It's taking advantage of an oversight that was made when the rules were originally constructed. It changes the entire definition of a foul and a foul shot. Changing the ramifications of a strategy that is so destructive to the quality of basketball does not in any way sacrifice the integrity of the sport.
DeAndre Jordan is set to be a free agent this offseason. If the rules on intentional fouling are reconstructed he instantly becomes more valuable on the open market. Is it fair that a rule change would essentially eliminate a main weakness in a player's game and in turn put more money in his pocket? Absolutely not. However, let's just call it a necessary evil. If there is one thing in sports that the professional associations have never compromised it is their entertainment value. They have always made sure their brand was characterized by a balance of staying true to the sport while also being captivating. It's not unchartered territory for a professional sports organization to make necessary changes with the quality of their product in mind. The NFL basically made it impossible to play defense just so they could increase scoring and draw in fans of all demographics. The NHL got rid of the two line pass, put a fucking polygon behind the net and nearly outlawed open ice hits so that the game was more open and free flowing. Hell, even the traditionalist corpses at the MLB finally instituted replay because fans were tired of blown calls. It's not like NBA has never made a drastic change before. Let us not forget that there was period of time when there was no such thing as a 3 point basket.
The fact of the matter is professional basketball is a business. The main point of the business is to draw in fans. The NBA isn't the NFL. The casual viewer isn't saying tuned to watch a foul shooting contest just because it's the NBA playoffs. Furthermore, the hacking strategy isn't polarizing. No one actually enjoys it. The fans hate it. The players hate it. Even the coaches that implement it hate it. They just think that, despite direct historical evidence to the contrary, it actually works. Intentional fouling may technically be a part of the game, but it's a part that detracts not only from the viewing public, but also the play on the floor. Considering the team that hacks ends up losing 90% of the time anyway, can we just let the better team be decided by high quality basketball instead of an unwatchable approach to circumventing the honor of the sport?