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The “Garnett Rule” – Will it be Banned?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on August 1, 2008

I was gonna post about this last November when I first started seeing Kevin Garnett and, later, but less often, Kendrick Perkins, employ this “technique”, but I got distracted by the Celtics winning all their games and my prediction of a 49 win season for them quickly looking pretty stupid. I first heard it referred to as the “Garnett Rule” yesterday during the telecast of Team USA’s dismantling of the overmatched Turkish National team in a prelim to the Olympics. The whistle blew while Team USA was on defense. A Turkish player, just for rhythm, just for confidence, just because this is what a shooter does (especially if you’re not feeling rhythm or confidence), took a shot well after the whistle. Chris Bosh, invoking Kevin Garnett, went up and goaltended it. The crowd hooted as if the refs were supposed to do something about it. Bosh did it, as Garnett and the Celtics do it, to deny the shooter any advantage. They just go up and cuff it. If the shooter is trying to get the feel of making a hoop, even if it doesn’t count, KG says, “unh, unh” (meaning, “no, no”). It is a subtle but, I think, powerful, psychological ploy.

Since it happens in a “dead ball” situation, meaning after a whistle, the player really is free to do whatever he or she wants, right? Well, not really. You can get a technical or incur a violation for a whole host of misadventures: shoving another player, arguing with a referee, not leaving the court or getting back into a game in a timely manner, taunting. James Posey, Garnett’s erstwhile former “brother-in-intimidation” used to slap the ball out of players’ hands after foul calls. He’d always do it in such a way that was not egregious enough to earn a T, but enough to irk the opponent. Advantage Posey. Along with their commitment to defense and their obvious overall focus, it was just another sign that these Celtics were more serious and wanted it more than the opponents.

I think the NBA will, sooner rather than later, legislate against Garnett and others goaltending after the whistle. If I were other teams, I would start doing the same, take away the Celts taking away the advantage. Or how about fouling Garnett when he goes up to snag it? Or alleyooping it? Or tipping it to a teammate who can then score. Obviously this could get out of control. That’s why, soon enough, the NBA and the officials will start doling out T’s for swatting shots.

4 Responses to “The “Garnett Rule” – Will it be Banned?”

  1. Tim F-W said

    I think that I’ve earned a technical every time I’ve goaltended a shot taken after the whistle. Why should professionals be any different?


  2. Max said

    Why not just ban the practice of putting up a shot well after the whistle blows? Maybe a warning the first time and a technical the second time? It delays the game and has a bit of a “I’m too cool to listen to the whistle” vibe, and as you noted, it can provide a slight edge to the shooter, too.


  3. Steve Bz said

    I had thought about the fact that players would probably, occasionally, continue to toss up after-the-whistle shots and how if you now couldn’t swat it, the shot would continue as a slight advantage. Still, I hadn’t come up with a solution. I like yours: a warning then a T! (What, are you a judge or something?)


  4. Tim M said

    So what exactly is the offense? Shoving, arguing, and taunting all merit a technical. Holding the ball in game as a means to waste seconds, untimely enter/exit all deserve a delay of game. Hanging on the rim is rightly followed with a T for safety. However, to add the Garnett Rule to the list is absurd. So again, what is the offense?

    If you say it is disorderly conduct, as you have mentioned it comes after the whistle therefore the person taking the shot should suffer equal consequence. Delay of game perhaps? I have seen it take place and it is by no means as the referees take longer to trot to the desk and announce their call.

    If you are saying the offense is due to psychological intimidation, then welcome to sport. Is mental capacity not part of sport? When a shot is tipped and recovered by the defender, does it resonate as much as a thunderous spike into the third row? I guarantee you the latter will affect a future drive to the hoop much more. How about a show of dribbling flair of a guard when a simple crossover would suffice? I guarantee you the humiliation of a defender will last much longer. Or how about a thunderous dunk to uplift the psyche of your fellow teammates? Or should we just mandate layups as a way of courtesy for your opponents and backboard?

    The fact that the Celtics along with team USA take an extra step and do this to say “we’re more serious and wanted it more than the opponents” says a lot in my books. This whole “don’t get pushy with the refs, call fouls every minute” is what softened the league today. As a fan for decades, I can never feel what I had felt about the league in the 90s and prior. Do me a favor and view a couple minutes of ESPN classic. You’ll hear alot more hardcourt sneaker sqeuaking than whistles. And for any argument about a league battling this new age of badboy behavior, the Palace brawl came well after such changes.

    So again what is the offense? There has been so much emphasis on sportsmanship that we sometimes forget about the actual sport. There is Barkley throwing an elbow into a skinny Angolan forward and then there is this. Two ends of the spectrum.


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