By Rob Ficiur
There was 8.3 seconds left in the basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. Nets coach (and former All-star) Jason Kidd had no time outs left, how could he diagram a play for his team? Kidd called over his point guard, Tyshawn Taylor. As the two met, Taylor accidently-on-purpose knocked the coach’s glass of water out of his hand, spilling liquid all over the basketball court. NBA regulations do not allow players to play on a wet basketball court, so the work crew got out to dry up the mess. Since there was an “unexpected” time out, Kidd’s assistant coach drew up a play for his team to run.
The day after Jason Kidd accidentally-on-purpose spilled water on the court, he was fined $50,000 by the league for delay of game. Video replays of the “accident” show Kidd mouthing “hit me” to Taylor was the coach called him over. It took no lip reading skill to understand the words and the message. In this story, the Nets did not prosper from their delay of game. Yes the team drew up a play to run. However, two Laker players in the Nets huddle easily within ear shot of the coach’s instruction. It wasn’t a time out, so why should the Lakers’ players not listen to the upcoming play?
Human nature seems to be that many of us (not you and me of course) push rules to the limit. People, who are accidentally-on-purpose going 20 kilometers an hour (or more) over the speed limit, slam on their breaks when they see a police car (or one that looks like a police car). Little tip on that, if you see the police car chances are he can see you. If his radar gun is on it is already too late.
In pro-sports there are always accidental-on –purpose things teams can do to shift the rules in their favor. When this happens the league makes new rules. And so on and so on. Here are some examples of accidental-on-purpose rules that have been implemented to try and reduce the cheating.
1. Warming up the back- up goalie. Years ago when an NHL team decided to pull their goalie, the new goalie was given a few warm up shots to sort of get him ready for the game. Since there was not a rule for how long you had to keep the goalie in the game, it became a common practice for NHL teams to leave the new goalie in for only one whistle, then the starting goalie went back in. The warm the goalie trick gave coach’s an unofficial time out. Now goalies get no warm up.
2. Diving (also known as falling accidentally-on-purpose) When I first began watching hockey there were players who gained the reputation of being divers. A rather soft hit from behind would send some players flying all over the ice. How did those players make the NHL if a soft tap like that sent them flying to the ground? In 1992 the NHL added a new rule against diving. The “new” rule is not perfect. Often we see a tripping penalty called on one player while a diving penalty is called on the other. Yes, there was a bit of a penalty, but the second player did not need to exaggerate it. As with anything, when a call is left to the discretion of a human referee there will always be disagreements.
3. Clear puck over the glass. At one time, when a hockey team was under pressure in their own zone, players would accidentally-on-purpose shoot the puck over the boards and out of play. Unlike the diving penalty the NHL made a new rule cut and dry. If the puck goes out without hitting the glass (or another player or stick) it is automatically a delay of game penalty. Even though the rule is clear, in the 2013 playoffs, teams (and announcers) complained that there were too many clearing the puck penalties. Maybe, but that was because before the rule too many shots went over accidentally-on-purpose.
4. Almost-injuries often occur when the team needs a break. A player (in any sport) can take his time getting off the field (rink) to help give his teammates get a quick break. In football this is discouraged by mandating a player go off for three plays if the trainer comes out.
For every new rule that a league comes up with, players (and coaches) find a way to get around it. While every team and player does their best to win the game, certain players (and teams) develop a reputation for pushing the rules. When split second judgment calls need to be made, the referees will not give the benefit of the doubt to those who have often accidently-on-purpose exaggerated a play. Having been fooled one time too many but an accidentally-on-purpose play, the refs will make the call the other way. Eventually the calls (and universe) will find a way to repay those accidentally-on-purpose plays.