December 25, 2010
During the second quarter of the Orlando Magic's 86-78 victory over the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, referees whistled Magic star Dwight Howard(notes) for violating the NBA's 10-second rule for free-throw shooters. It's a pretty rare call.
Just how rare? Well, as noted NBA stalwart, griot and conscience Hubie Brown said, "I have never seen it called in any game that I've ever done in 26 years of doing television."
With the Magic leading the Celtics 29-28 about halfway through the second quarter, Howard stepped to the line for two shots and hit the first. After getting the ball back from the official, he shrugged his shoulders, took a couple of deep breaths, pondered whether man was ever meant to truly know the purpose of his existence, calmly spun the ball in his left hand, changed his mind on whether or not he thinks Leonardo DiCaprio is dreaming at the end of "Inception," remembered that he had to call his mom after the game and took a pair of very deliberate dribbles. Before he knew it, he was called for taking too long.
Like, way, way, way too long.
Here's the text of Section III of Rule 9 of the Official Rules of the National Basketball Association, which details free-throw governance, courtesy of NBA.com:
Section III-Time Limit Each free throw attempt shall be made within 10 seconds after the ball has been placed at the disposal of the free-thrower.
The letter of the law is repeated in Section I of Rule 10, which lays out violations and penalties:
Section I-Free Throw
a. After the ball is placed at the disposal of a free throw shooter, his attempt shall be within 10 seconds in such a way that the ball enters the basket or touches the ring before it is touched by a player. The shooter shall be within that part of the free throw circle behind the free throw line. [...]
(1) In (a-f) above, if the violation is by the offense, no point can be scored. The ball is awarded out-of-bounds to the opposing team at the free throw line extended.
Howard clearly violated the rule — while we don't see exactly when the ball is "placed at [his] disposal," he definitely has it at the 10-second mark of the clip. The whistle is blown at 0:25, a full 15 seconds later, and Dwight's not even in his shooting motion yet. So while the play's super rare and it was kind of a stunner to see it called, the officials were totally in the right when they blew the play dead.
After the whistle, Howard continued his trend of complaining about a call he didn't like by "throwing the ball away in disgust," as play-by-play man Mike Tirico put it, and getting slapped with his league-leading 10th technical foul of the year. Dwight followed that by sarcastically clapping while standing next to official Bob Delaney, who promptly told the All-Star center to quit the histrionics and get back to playing.
And seriously, Dwight Howard does need to pull the plug on that stuff. As Papa Dwyer wrote last month, "At this pace, Howard is going to be earning a one-game suspension for every two technicals he picks up by late January, and I'm sorry, but that's not exactly what MVPs do." Dwight only had five when KD wrote that line on Nov. 23, he's doubled that mark in just over a month, and considering suspensions start with the 16th technical foul, yep, he's right on pace to start missing time before Valentine's Day.
Which is insane, frustrating and potentially seriously damaging for a Magic team that's working to integrate several major new pieces after last week's blockbuster trades with the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. Then again, it's not like this is anything new — remember, this was a concern for Howard and the Magic last March, too.
Not to crown myself King of Morality and puncture the excitement Magic fans are likely feeling after stopping the Celtics' 14-game winning streak Saturday, but if I was an Orlando backer, I'd be hoping Dwight's New Year's resolution is to stop acting petulant when things don't go his way and jettison that bratty 'tude, pronto. If he doesn't, he could wind up jeopardizing his team's postseason hopes and big-picture relevance well before the second season ever gets underway.
Video courtesy of @Jose3030.