The ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ tactic has been around far longer than the arrival Shaquille O’Neal himself. Though the mammoth of a man that Shaq made the ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ tactic a popular technique with opposing teams when they figured that Shaq was a horrendous free throw shooter. O’Neal is a career 52% from the free throw stripe and with current players like Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan following in Shaq’s free throw follie footsteps, more and more teams are intentionally fouling players to try and ice them by making them hit their free throws. It is an annoyance to watch as coaches will sub-in players who rarely get off the pine and bear hug an opposing player to put him on the free throw line. Simple put, it is not basketball. It is a sleazy move but it does pay off more often than not. Whether or not it proves to be the right move, I think it needs to be removed from the game. It is a disgrace to the game and it needs to be addressed.
Unfortunately, because of how the game of basketball has progressed over the 20th and 21st century’s, players no longer have the discipline to practice the simple act of hitting a free throw. Players have become more fascinated with dunking at practice with hopes of getting a couple million views on YouTube. What gets me is that all of the dunking that players do in practice are done without being guarded. Which to me is ironic because in games, when the ball is in play and a dunk can be attempted, players are almost always being pressured by a defender or defenders. Yet they believe practicing dunking without any defense at all will in some way help them score points and win games.
Now on the flip side, free throws attempted during a game are never faced with a defender. They are as they are stated, free throws. But because practicing and hitting your free throws won’t get you any watches on Vine or likes on Instagram, players do not want to waste their time on practicing it, which is a shame because players are much more likely to have a free throw attempt in a game than they are to have a free run at a dunk. I get that free throws are not the flashiest part of basketball but they are one of the most fundamental parts of the game. The fact that ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ is used at such a high rate in todays game shows how far the game has strayed from its roots.
There is a simple solution to the ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ tactic and that is PROFESSIONAL basketball players practice hitting their free throws. We already know that most pro basketball players can dunk the ball and dunking is not very hard to practice. If you stand 6 feet 10 inches tall it is not all that difficult to dunk a basketball yet for some reason many 6 foot 10 inch tall players seem to spend their time practicing dunking.
Why not take the time spent practicing dunks and put out towards practicing free throws? It would undoubtedly improve their free throw shooting to some extent and maybe even expand their skill set on the court while the ball is in play. Maybe add a 10 foot hook shot to their game or a face up jump shot. Look at what Lew Alcindor did when the NCAA banned dunking, he perfected the hook shot to the point that it was unguardable.
Professional basketball players today are simple too caught up in themselves and their freakish athletic ability to pay attention to the fundamentals of basketball. Isolation offense has taken over from the team game and players are driven by egos and capitalism. The NBA may have you believe that basketball has taken huge strides in years past but I don’t believe that is true. Sure its true basketball has spread and gained popularity all across the globe but the game has become too ego-centric and not about working together as a team. Synergy takes a back seat to antagonism in todays game and its a damn shame.