King Kaufman's Sports Daily

The NBA blew the call by not suspending Jason Kidd. Plus: Shoot before :24 or it's a turnover! And: Chris Webber still taking Steve Fisher's heat.

By King Kaufman
Published April 29, 2008 2:00PM (UTC)
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How is it that Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks wasn't suspended for his flagrant foul on New Orleans Hornet Jennaro Pargo Sunday night?

With 7:16 to go in Game 4 and the Hornets leading 86-70, Pargo took a pass from Chris Paul on a fast break and went for a layup as Kidd, beaten by a step, defended. Pargo went up, Kidd overran him and, apparently reaching for the ball, instead caught the back of Pargo's neck.


It happened very fast, but Kidd appeared to pull down hard on Pargo's neck, which jack-knifed Pargo's body, sending him to the floor headfirst. Somehow, he got his hands down to break his fall as the top of his head was zooming down toward the hardwood. Pargo was uninjured, tempers flared for a moment but calm was quickly restored without punches being thrown.

Kidd was whistled for a so-called flagrant two foul, which brings automatic ejection. On Monday NBA officials reviewed the play and determined that no further punishment would be handed out, and Kidd is expected to play Tuesday night.

This is the same league office that last year torpedoed the best series in the playoffs by suspending two Phoenix Suns players for taking a couple of steps toward an altercation, then thinking better of it and retreating long before they came anywhere near combat.


Take two halting steps and get hit with a series-altering suspension. Whip an opponent's head down toward the court in the fourth quarter of a 16-point blowout, no problem.

Maybe it has something to do with who Jason Kidd is. He's a grand old man of the game these days, a future Hall of Famer going for the elusive title that would cap his career. Amare Stoudemire, one of the two Suns, along with Boris Diaw, who were suspended last year before Game 5 of their series against the San Antonio Spurs, is a great player, but he doesn't have anything like Kidd's cachet.

Kidd did that shoulder shrugging, hey I wasn't trying to hurt him thing after the game, and even Paul said he didn't think Kidd should be suspended.


Kidd was lying and Paul was wrong. There is simply no other way to look at Kidd's foul than as a dirty play, an intentional act. You don't accidentally push down on someone's neck while they're in the air. The refs got the call right on game night. The NBA blew it on Monday.


Hobbyhorse: That's a turnover, dammit [PERMALINK]

I can't for the life of me figure out why teams that take possession with more than about 30 and less than 48 seconds left in a quarter don't always, always try their level best to get a two-for-one. That is, get a shot off before there are 24 seconds remaining.

If you can get a shot off with more than 24 seconds to go, chances are you're going to get another possession before the quarter ends. If you don't, the other team is going to play for the last shot. Last time I looked, the word for giving away a possession was "turnover."


I can understand not rushing up a bad shot just to get a two-for-one. That would be essentially giving away the earlier possession. And I can understand not going out of your way to get the two-for-one in the regular season. After all, the 1 in humorously large made-up number chance of the point guard pulling a hamstring by running instead of walking the ball upcourt isn't worth taking for a regular-season win.

It probably seems like a small thing. Hey, it's one shot, no big deal. That's probably why coaches don't bother to make an issue of it. But look at the box scores. The 16 playoff teams averaged 13.6 turnovers a game during the regular season. And they're essentially willing to give away up to three more possessions per game -- assuming that any team that would benefit from more possessions in the fourth quarter would be rushing -- for no particular reason.

If some coach could figure out a way to reduce turnovers by three per game, he'd be called a genius. Most of them could knock out one or two per game by just saying, "Get a shot off before :24" when the situation arises, which on average ought to be every other first, second and third quarter.


Failing to go for a two-for-one isn't quite like a turnover because a team that goes for it could get an offensive rebound and keep possession for the remainder of the quarter, or it could give up an offensive rebound on the other end and not get the ball back after all. But robbing yourself of a chance at a possession is as close to committing a turnover as it's possible to get before that possession's started. There's no excuse for it.

Chris Webber still taking heat for Steve Fisher [PERMALINK]

Sunday was the first "official" day on the job at TNT for Chris Webber, whatever that means, so in the wee-hours final minutes of that night's "Inside the NBA" studio show, well into the silliness, host Ernie Johnson gave Webber a new-employee orientation quiz, which consisted of five questions.

The first four were easy, along the lines of "What is the name of the show you're on?" and "Who is the only white guy on the set?" The last one was a reference to Webber's famous bonehead play in the 1993 NCAA Championship Game, when he called timeout in the final seconds. Michigan was out of timeouts, so Webber's move cost him a technical foul and the Wolverines their last chance to come from behind against North Carolina.


The question: "In college basketball how many timeouts do you get in a game?"

"You know, it's messed up," a laughing Webber said, "I still don't know the answer to that."

Actually, I bet most college basketball fans don't know the answer to that. Doesn't it seem like you get about six trillion, and then suddenly at the end of the game both teams are down to one or none?

The answer is seven. Usually. For some reason, if there are no media timeouts, teams only get six timeouts each. But we're talking to a Michigan guy here, so the answer is seven. Each team gets six 30-second timeouts, only three of which can be carried over to the second half, plus a 60-second timeout to be used any time.


The reason it seems like each team gets a kazillion is because seven is a whole mess of timeouts. What's amazing is that college teams ever run out of timeouts in a game. What's even more amazing is that coaches don't get lit up for running out of timeouts.

We typists and chatterers roast football coaches for using up their allotment of six timeouts in a 60-minute game, but when basketball coaches use their seven in 40 minutes, we let it go, or we treat it like an act of nature. "Oh well, they were out of timeouts."

Chris Webber made a stupid play in that title game, but he was a 20-year-old kid. The real goat that night was his coach, Steve Fisher. Fifteen years later Webber's still taking crap about it and nobody even mentions Fisher.

College coaches get a media timeout every four minutes, a total of eight of them. Plus halftime. So assuming the other team is going to stupidly use up all of its timeouts, which it is, you get to meet with your team 16 times in a 40-minute game, once every 2:30, even if you don't use any of your own timeouts. And that's only if nobody fouls out. Throw in another 60-second stoppage every time that happens.


Then toss in the three you have to use in the first half or you'll lose them so you might as well, and now the clock is stopping, on average, every 2:06 in a game with nobody fouling out. Isn't that enough? Do coaches really have to stop the clock even more than that, at the cost of not being able to stop it when they need to in the end game? Consider Monday's column carefully before giving your answer, which is: No.

Previous column: Dazzling strategy: "Keep rebounding!"

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    King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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