Charges Are The Worst

I interrupt my vacation once again for this public service announcement:


Last night's game between the Raptors and Heat contained a perfect, singular example of why charges should be legislated out of the game. 

DeMarre Carroll filled his lane on a fast break on the right wing and received a pass just below the free throw line. He went up for a layup as Goran Dragic slid from guarding the ball in the middle of the floor to in front of Carroll.

The two players collided. The referee called a charge. Carroll hurt his wrist as he tumbled to the floor.

The call was wrong, although it was close as the rule is written. Dragic nearly got into a legal guarding position before Carroll started his upward motion towards the rim, but he didn't quite make it. He was still sliding laterally.

Dragic was trying to take a charge and was rewarded. He made no attempt to play the ball. He slid over, crossed his arms over his chest and fell.

This is my single biggest complaint with the charge. It's not defense. If a player has to establish "legal guarding position," shouldn't he have to try and guard?

Last night's example showed that charges are also a safety concern. It's miraculous that players aren't hurt more often. Think about it: a charge involves a world class athlete who is either going full speed or airborne running into another giant human being who is supposed to be stationary, but often isn't. That's asking for injuries either to both players.

All that before we acknowledge the that referees (more in college than the NBA) consistently miss the call, and it should be pretty easy to understand why I'm fully behind (or perhaps in front of and leading) the #BanCharges movement. Yet, for some that's not enough.

No. I'm advocating that the defender actually has to play defense. I don't know why people think banning the charge will turn basketball into a running backs drill where offensive players are just barreling through the lane into guys. A defender can still jump and block a shot. He can still swipe at the ball. All I'd like to see is secondary defenders not jump under a guy who is not at all thinking about protecting himself. Sometimes on defense, you get beat.

No, you're not because all human natural reaction is to go around objects already in front of us. Plus, with more nuance than #BanCharges, that would still be an offensive foul. The play I want to get rid of is the secondary defender sliding in. If a primary defender (on-ball defender) is actually trying to defend and an offensive player barrels through him, it should be an offensive foul. I'd like to see it called a player control foul, meaning the offensive player has to be out of control or forcefully using his body to create an advantage (i.e. lowering a shoulder in an illegal way). 

The NBA should try and be a leader here and really look at this rule in the name of player safety. Perhaps college and youth basketball would follow. Ban secondary defenders taking charges. If you can't get there and be in position to actually defend, get out of the way. You're beat. If the defender is there in time and has his hands up or out in a defensive position and gets run over? Okay then. The offensive player would have had time to see him and react.

Safety, practicality and accuracy. Time for the charge, as written, to go.