I’ve been railing about this for seven years now. I need some help, people. The rulebook is crystal clear on this: Teams should be assessed a technical whenever a head coach or assistant ventures onto the court beyond prescribed boundaries. Head coaches are allowed to stroll along the sideline toward half court to yell out plays, provided they retreat in a timely fashion. They are not allowed to step five feet onto the court during their meanderings. They are not allowed to randomly be outside the coach’s box to scream, clap, flap their wings, or whatever other histrionics they might use to distract opposing players.
Assistants have to stay on the bench, period. They can yelp and clap from their seats when opposing shooters set up shop nearby, but it’s sort of embarrassing to watch grown men in expensive suits turn into crazy youth sports parents.
What Sidney Lowe, the Wiz assistant, did Thursday night in the closing moments of Washington’s win in New York was blatantly illegal in the moment. He stood on the court right next to a referee who decided to just ignore him. He tricked Courtney Lee into passing up a game-tying triple. That’s not even the referee’s fault. The NBA long ago decided to punt this rule. Usually, it doesn’t matter; Erik Spoelstra does no damage while he ambles up the floor alongside his point guard during a typical half-court possession.
But occasionally you get something like this — or Jason Kidd (intentionally) slamming into Mike Woodson in crunch time, or Stephen Jackson getting whistled for an unfair technical in the Western Conference finals for daring to yell back at the Thunder coaches and bench players taunting him. The NBA is great at ignoring rules until they come into the play at the end of close games, and then apologizing the next day. This one is simple, and it’s on the books already: Get the coaches off the court.