NBA refs enforce 'respect the game' rule



NBA Commissioner David Stern promised to decrease excessive complaining about referees' calls. Players now know it wasn't an idle threat.
Armed with what NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson says is an edict that players "respect the game," referees called 55 unsportsmanlike conduct technical fouls through Monday's games (51). They called 18 through last season's first 50 games.

There havebeen five ejections this season compared to one to start last season.

Twenty-nine of the technicals called this season are a direct result of the new rule. Jackson says he is encouraged that the policy is working because the per-game average decreased to less than one per contest the last34 games.

"I'd say we're moving toward a positive effect," Jackson says, adding that the league's policy isn't one of zero tolerance. "Players are permitted to have heat-of-the-moment reaction as long as it's not screaming and cursing."

Still, the policy has been criticized. Detroit Pistons All-Star forward Rasheed Wallace, the league-leader last season with 16 technicals, said the rule is aimed specifically at him.

Wallace picked up two technicals in the Pistons' season opener and was ejected at 7:03 of the third quarter. He has a league-high four technicals on the season.

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett, another All-Star who has been hit with a technical this season, has called the policy "... almost communism."

While players may not agree with the new rule, they seem to understand they have no choice but to adjust to the way the games are being called.

"Sometimes emotions get in the way and you overreact," Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce says. "You have to control your emotions. A rule is a rule."

Says Gilbert Arenas, the Washington Wizards' All-Star guard: "If you talk to (referees), they'll talk. They don't want you to showboat them up. All the cussing and antics that we're used to... that's all they're cutting out."

It will take a while for everyone, mainly no doubt, the players, to get used to but i still think they take it too far, yet if that is the case, where do you stop?