I'm occasionally critical of David Stern. For instance, I don't like how he continues to tinker with the rules in order to make it easier for more marketable stars vice solid teams (e.g., the Pistons).Besides, was the game ever adapted to make it easier for Grant Hill? And the NBA dress code, while necessary for the further globalization of the game, could have been implemented behind closed doors with buy-in from some of the league's elite (in terms of game and dress) to avoid much of the controversy and race-card bullshit that plagued the start of last season.
But while I find fault with some of Stern's moves, I can also recognize the master strokes. To that end, I'm a fan of recently implemented "no tolerance policy," the end product of which will be a game that is infinitely more watchable than what we've seen over the past couple seasons.
See, as difficult as it may be for basketball fans to admit, NBA players are without a doubt the most...delicate, shall we say, of all U.S professional athletes. Think about it: NBA fights tend to be a bit on the humorous side (unless it's Laimbeer/Barkley). NBA superstars rival NFL wide-receivers in drama quotient. And NBA players flat out whine more than anyone in the four major sports.Note that I'm limiting this to U.S. sports. Soccer players, especially those in European leagues, still sport the crown and sceptre for worldwide whininess.
The crying, the tantrums, the hysterics -- all had gotten out of hand in recent seasons to the point where any call against any team drew reactions normally seen from six year-olds or European league soccer players. The playoffs were even worse. The antics were grating to watch for opposing fans; embarrasing for fans of the "oppressed"; and it needed to change if the game was to experience this "renaissance" we've all been promised.
Make no mistake: I understand that the Pistons will feel the effects more than most. The Boys in Blue milked more makeup calls than any team in the league over the past couple seasons, and their at times adversarial relationship with the referees will lead to a number of technical fouls in the early going this season. (And at his current pace, you have to wonder if Rasheed Wallace will see a dime of his paycheck this season due to accrued fines for criticizing the league and officials.)
But while officials have had a inordinate impact on the first week of the season, I don't think this policy will regularly be enforced as rigorously as it is right now. Referees are drawing the line in the sand at the moment, making certain that the rules are known league-wide. I would imagine that the "no tolerance policy" will eventually give way to a policy resembling baseball's rules against arguing balls and srikes, where a certain amount of protest is allowed so long as a player/coach doesn't show up the ump.
For sure the system will never be perfect; there will always be those referees whose sensitivity levels are higher than others. Referees aren't exempt from error or assholery. And I imagine that star players will continue to be afforded some lenience in big games. But overall, I suspect the game on the floor should improve without the whining. And as fans, we should all appreciate that.