During his annual address before Game 1 of the NBA Finals — a rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that he would use his “bully pulpit” to seek the end of the intentional fouling of bad free throw shooters.

Silver Seeks The End Of Hack-a-Shaq

Commonly called the Hack-a-Shaq strategy due to Shaquille O’Neal‘s poor free throw shooting during his career, the tactic was first used by former Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson against Dennis Rodman before it was utilized to neutralize O’Neal’s dominance in the post.

In the modern NBA, teams have occasionally used the Hack-a-Shaq to throw opposing offenses out of rhythm and limit their scoring.  Centers Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets and DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers are the most high profile victims of the Hack-a-Shaq strategy.  For the 2015-16 season, Howard shot 49% from the free throw line, while Jordan shot 43%.

Silver mentioned that the league saw a two-and-a-half times increase in intentional fouls this season from 2014-15, and  has seen a 16-fold increase over the past five years.


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Silver dove into the NBA’s research to tell how the fouls effect the game.  “Not only is that something that is bad for our network partners, but for all the fan research we have shows the fans hate it,” Silver said.  “There may be a compromise in there where we can cut it down significantly.”

Should the NBA get rid of intentional fouls?  If they do, it feels like like a cop out.  Howard earned over $22 million this season and is expected to opt-out of his contract to enter free agency, where he wants around $30 million per year.  Jordan signed a 4 year/$88 million deal this past offseason.  Another target of the Hack-a-Player, Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond, shot 36% from the line this season and is expected to receive a max deal as a free agent this offseason.

These players are making millions of dollars for playing a game, and you’re telling me that Adam Silver wants to change the rules of the whole league cause a handful of players can’t hit an uncontested shot from 15 feet away?  Most of the NBA players are able to go to college for free because of their ability to play basketball (out of Howard, Jordan, and Drummond, only Howard entered the league from high school).

Not everyone in the league shares Silver’s view on the strategy.  Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban said, “If Adam wants to get rid of Hack-a-Shaq, he’s wrong. Dead wrong,”

In a similar view, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant said:

I definitely share Durant and Cuban’s view, by banning the Hack-a-Shaq, Silver would be bailing out players with a significant flaw in their game. If coaches and players want the hacking to end, then learn how to make a free throw. The rules shouldn’t be changed to help out a few players in the league.

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