Suns News

NBA to Look at ’Hack-a-Shaq’ Strategy

'Hack-a-Shaq' is just one of the topics on Commissioner Stern's docket this summer.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
By Jerry Brown
East Valley Tribune
May 9, 2008

The San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the NBA may have to come up with a different way to contend with Shaquille O'Neal.

NBA Commissioner David Stern told Wednesday the league will consider rule changes to the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy that was taken to almost comical proportions by the Spurs in their five-game win over Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs.

Stern said fouls away from the basketball and use of replay for game clock malfunctions - something that would have reversed a mistake in Game 2 of the current Orlando-Detroit series - will be on the docket when the NBA Competition Committee meets later this month in Orlando, Fla.

The Spurs repeatedly fouled O'Neal away from the ball both to put a poor free-throw shooter at the line and disrupt Phoenix's offensive rhythm. The tactic worked on both counts as O'Neal missed 32 of 64 free throws in the series (50 percent) and several Suns, including Steve Nash, admitted the ploy affected Phoenix's flow.

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Stern said he didn't approve of the strategy that involves "Hey, look at me, I'm going to hit this guy as soon as the ball goes into play, even though he's standing under the other basket.

"I think that conversation has been started again, by the media, by fans, etc. We're going to look at it again."

The league could extend the current rule that governs the final two minutes - the team is awarded one free throw and retains possession - or treat the intentional foul like the current "breakaway" foul, where the offended player gets two shots and the team retains possession.

Suns general manager Steve Kerr said he planned to bring up the issue himself in Orlando and was happy to hear it's already on the commissioner's mind.

"At the risk of sounding like a homer because we have Shaq, it needs to be looked at," Kerr said. "It wasn't a gimmick, (Spurs coach) Gregg Popovich used it as a strategy through the series in hopes of disrupting our offense and it worked.

"But I have heard from a lot of fans who said the fouls turned the games into a farce and took a lot of the enjoyment out of it. And that's something we need to be concerned with."

COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.