Thoughts on intentionally fouling terrible free throw shooters

The NBA product, at times, can be tough enough to watch. Add intentional fouling to the equation and a normal 15 minute quarter can seem like it lasts an eternity.

Other than with two minutes remaining in the quarter, the league has no rule discouraging the act of fouling players on purpose.

Coach Brad Stevens had this to say Monday regarding the issue, before his team took on the Clippers.

The Clips' DeAndre Jordan is a notorious bad free throw shooter.

Fouling him on Monday didn't have much of an effect on the game, since the Clips' center was three for six at the line in the Clippers win. I am sure Doc Rivers' crew would take that percentage from DeAndre every game.

Jordan made these comments after the victory regarding the tactic:

Per Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times:

Honestly, it helps me get my scoring average up by making some. No, but honestly, I don't really think about it. The guys give me so much confidence when I go to the line that I'm trying not to think about it as much. I honestly want to make them, but if I don't then we go down and get a stop. The score hasn't changed and we're still up by the same amount of points. It's Doc's decision, whatever it may be.

Jordan is a shooting 42% from the charity stripe for his career, including 39% this season.

This is not a new strategy. The approach became more talked about in the early 2000's, with what was known as "Hack-a-Shaq" where Shaquille O'Neal would get fouled intentionally, forcing the viewer to gauge their eyes out looking at his awful form:

Shaq was a career 52% free throw shooter and this game plan was, and is still, well within the rules.

Watching this strategy unfold would cause even the average NBA fan to pull their hair out. But until the league switches the rule, the method is just a part of the game we will all have to live with.

When the topic was brought up to some of the best coaches in the league last season, Greg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau had this to say, per Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago:

From Pop:

I hate it,I think it's awful. I hate doing it. Seriously. I think it's a pain in the neck, fans don't like it, I don't like it, nobody likes it. It disrupts the flow of the game. If there's an equitable way to get rid of it, I'm all for it. But it's part of the game. It's part of the rules now and if you think somebody can't shoot a free throw you might as well take advantage of it. If you think somebody can't shoot you don't guard him the same way. So [the strategy's] fair, it's just kind of ugly I think.

And from Thibodeau:

I'll say this about Pop – he loves to win. To me as a coach that's the decision you're making. You're allowed to do it, and if you feel like that gives you your best chance at winning then you're going to do whatever you feel is going to give you your best chance to win. Pop's record speaks for itself.

Pop even poked fun at the idea during a game in 2008 against the Phoenix Suns when he employed his team to foul Shaq five seconds into the game:

The game of basketball, when played right, is a beautiful thing. Watching a player clank non stop free throws is not. This topic needs to be tackled by the higher ups in the NBA office.

Commissioner Adam Silver is very progressive in his thinking. He is open to the idea of a play-in game for the eighth seeds. He wants to move up the NBA age limit, and most importantly eliminate benefiting teams that tank.

But Silver will need to address the intentional fouling matter sooner rather than later. Penalizing teams for obvious fouling will discourage the idea. I am all for hard fouls, and making players shoot free throws, but that is all better done during the course of in-game action, not off the ball when the offensive team hasn't even crossed half court.

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

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