Boban doesn’t sweat the small stuff, but SVG irked by different rules for Pistons big man

Boban Marjanovic shoots a lot of free throws – but not as many as he should, Stan Van Gundy feels
Ned Dishman (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

AUBURN HILLS – Boban Marjanovic takes a zen approach to the poundings he absorbs in the post that often – too often, if you ask Stan Van Gundy – get ignored by NBA officials.

“I’m really used to that,” he smiles, because when isn’t Boban smiling? “I’m different than anybody a little bit. My size is different. I think, like, it’s hard for them.”

For Van Gundy, it’s reminiscent of his time coaching Shaquille O’Neal when overwhelmed opponents were given leeway to make up for their size and strength disadvantage by flouting the rules without penalty. While contact on the perimeter has been cleaned up dramatically over the past generation, contact inside is viewed through a different lens.

“While they limited the contact so much on the perimeter, if anything they just let ’em beat the crap out of each other inside,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know if that’s a conscious decision by the league of we just want to do everything we can to get rid of post-up play, but there certainly hasn’t been a change toward less contact in the post. And the bigger the guy – especially the stronger the guy – the more they just let everybody get away with it.

“Boban deserves to have the game called exactly the same way for him as you would for Henry Ellenson. But that’s not what I see happening.”

When the Pistons blasted Phoenix last month and Marjanovic played down the stretch, guarded by the much smaller Marquese Chriss, Chriss was clearly shoving him with two hands in the back and didn’t get a call. Against Boston on Sunday, Marjanovic was mauled in the post once – his uniform top lifted to expose a wide swath of his mid-section – and, again, no call.

On another possession, “Al (Horford) tried to push him as hard as he could and he was able to move him back a little bit on that jump hook,” Van Gundy said. “It’s the way it is. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way they’ve decided they’re going to call it.”

With O’Neal, there wasn’t much room for equivocation on Van Gundy’s part. He was in his prime as the game’s dominant center; he was going to play, calls or no calls. It’s a tougher decision for Van Gundy with Marjanovic. If he’s not going to get calls, does Van Gundy get to a point where he decides it’s not worth playing him if his biggest advantage is neutralized by the nature of officiating him?

“I mean, y’know, not really,” he said. “But it’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate for us, but it’s unfortunate for him. He deserves the right to play by the same rules as everybody else. He comes out of games, he’s scratched up. The guy’s beat up.”

Marjanovic admits that sometimes it gets to him, but he tries to mask his emotions and maintain his focus.

“Sometimes I show, sometimes I don’t show,” he said. “Sometimes I forget so fast. Sometimes I try to don’t think about it.”

Even with all the overlooked fouls, Marjanovic still shoots free throws at the highest rate on the Pistons – and it’s not particularly close. He takes 10.3 free throws per 36 minutes; Andre Drummond is second at 5.6. So he’s a weapon and one Van Gundy would love to utilize more often.

As for Boban, he’s intent on staying ready and staying above the emotional fray.

“If you have that in your head and you think about that every time, your game, your focus, will go down. It would be low, low, low. Everybody say, short memory. You just continue to grind. Don’t focus on that stuff. Be in the game. Be professional.”