Chorus of complaints from NBA stars over new rules

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 22 2010 05:00 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2010 01:00 AM

LOS ANGELES– LeBron James and Pau Gasol have added their voices to the chorus of complaints from NBA basketball stars upset over the league's tough new rules regarding technical fouls.

Miami Heat's James fears the new rules and the way the referees implement them could serve to rob the emotional edge from the game.

"We are emotional players," James said. "I mean, just imagine if it's game seven of the finals and you feel like there was a call missed or something you felt should have been called and you show emotion.

"And you're at a point where you already have a technical foul, and now you get kicked out of game seven of the finals because of this rule. It wouldn't be great."

In September, the league announced it was expanding its "respect for the game" guidelines to include unsportsmanlike actions that it feels take away from the product on the floor - and how it looks on television.

Guidelines for issuing technical fouls now include gestures such as raising a fist in the air in anger, incredulous arm waving and excessive questioning of the call even in moderate tones.

"It's an emotional game, no matter what," Lakers forward Gasol, of Spain, said. "You're going to react if you don't agree with a call. You just can't keep yourself cool all the time. It'll be tough. It'll be an adjustment. I don't know if there's much we can do about it. If you complain, you might get fined even more."

Case in point was game six of a preseason schedule for the Heat.

Miami's Chris Bosh was whistled late in Monday's second quarter by veteran referee Dick Bavetta for putting his hands in the air to indicate he did not commit a foul.

"I just went to him and said, 'Dick, we know each other better than that, I didn't come at you disrespectfully,'" Bosh said.

Not this season where the NBA's gag order now extends to simple hand gestures.

"I just wanted to talk about the call," Bosh said. "And that was it. And his main emphasis was, 'Put your hands down.' I'm not saying anything bad or anything. I'm not a disrespectful guy."

Said James of his teammate, "He absolutely, basically said nothing."

Bosh's technical was the third this preseason for the Heat, with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Mike Miller also whistled in recent weeks for voicing displeasure.

"What I don't want to do is get in trouble," said James speaking of himself in the third person. "Everything LeBron says is blown up these days and I already know, so I'm not going to harp on it too much.

"I just think the emotion of the game can never be taken out of the game of basketball."

Bosh left the arena 2,000 dollars poorer with fines for technical fouls doubling this season.

"I could understand if somebody was yelling, cursing, saying inappropriate things, OK, that's the reason for a technical," he said.

"I know it's hard on those guys. I know we're all working at the same time. I know it's not easy. It's unfortunate, but hopefully it'll get better."

The NBA players association has also entered the fray, saying it is planning to challenge saying the league's decision to hand out more technical fouls to complaining players is an "overreaction".

Billy Hunter, executive director of the union, said the players weren't consulted about the rule changes.

"We intend to file an appropriate legal challenge," Hunter said.

Four technical fouls were called in a 16-second span of Boston's exhibition victory over New York, and Celtics all-star Kevin Garnett was ejected after picking up two of them for arguing.

Garnett once tried to bet a referee a cheeseburger that he didn't commit a foul the referee had accused him of. If the new no-whining policy holds up for the rest of the season, Garnett could be making a lot more trips to McDonald's.