Adam Silver Wants NBA To Cut Down On ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ Strategy: ‘The Fans Hate It’

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is apparently putting his foot down against the infamous “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy that has been used for years in the basketball league.

According to CBC Sports, Silver made it clear Friday night that he wants to enforce a rule change within the NBA which would essentially kill the “Hack-a-Shaq” defensive strategy.

Silver reportedly shared his intentions during his annual state of the union speech at the NBA Finals in Oakland Friday.

“Not only is [it] something that is bad for our network partners, but for all of the fan research we have, [it] shows that the fans hate it. There may be a compromise in there where we can cut it down significantly.”

What exactly is the Hack-a-Shaq strategy?

Reports confirm that the origin of the strategy is credited to Don Nelson, the former head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. Nelson, who coached the Mavericks from 1997 to 2005, used the Hack-a-Shaq strategy to specifically target players with poor free throw percentages. The objective was to intentionally foul a player known for their poor free-throw percentages repeatedly – sending them to the line.

Why? Sending them to the free throw line would drastically decrease the team’s chances of scoring on those possessions.

Essentially, the purpose of the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy was to prevent players that were dominant from the field but weak from the free throw line from scoring.

When most NBA fans and critics think of dominant players with poor free throw percentages, the name featured near the top of most lists is none other than Shaquille O’Neal.

According to the New York Times, the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy did not start with Shaquille O’Neal. The report states that the hacking strategy was used on Dennis Rodman during a December 1997 match between the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks.

“Before the game, Don Nelson asked [Bubba] Wells…if he would be willing to help execute a curious new game plan: Nelson wanted to foul Rodman repeatedly, whether he had the ball or not, to send him to the free-throw line, where he was shooting just 38.6 percent.”

During that particular match, Dennis Rodman still made nine out of his 12 free throw attempts – contributing to the Bulls’ victory and the Mavericks’ 12th consecutive loss.

However, according to the report, “Nelson was pleased with his experiment that night.”

His “experiment” became successful when Don Nelson decided to target Shaquille O’Neal.

According to Basketball-Reference, Shaquille O’Neal had a career free throw percentage of 52.7 percent. In many other aspects of the game, he was undoubtedly one of the best players in the league. Here is just a glimpse at some of the statistical highlights from his 18-year career as a professional basketball star:

  • 28,596 points
  • 13,099 rebounds
  • 3,026 assists
  • 2,732 blocks
  • 739 steals

However, out of 11,252 free throw attempts, Shaquille O’Neal only made 5,935 of them throughout his entire career.

Several years after Shaquille O’Neal retired, the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy is still being used against quite a few key players in the NBA that meet the same criteria. Dominating players such as Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, and DeAndre Jordan are essentially attacked with repeated fouls on the court in a vast number of games.

If Adam Silver and the NBA decide to get rid of the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy, it may require coaches throughout the league to go back to the drawing board with their defense playbooks.

[Photo by Jamie Squire/Allsport/Getty Images Sport]