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The travesty of the swing-through foul

With about six and a half minutes left to play in the third quarter in last night’s Thunder/Grizzlies game, Kevin Durant was being guarded awfully tight by Memphis’ Tony Allen. Instead of running the offense and working for a quality shot, Durant proceeded to swing the ball through Allen’s body.

Knowing a whistle would be blown, Durant went through a shamefully natural progression of losing the ball below Allen’s shoulders and writhing his arms in ways akin to those “wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men.”

Allen had done no wrong, in fact, he was in a prime defensive position: body low, up close, hands active. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a personal foul, and Durant stepped to the line and added two more points to the Thunder lead.

This call didn’t change the outcome of the game, it wasn’t something that we haven’t seen before, and it wasn’t really controversial -- but it piqued the hell out of me. I’ve always been a proponent for tough, hard-nosed defense. I tend to salute those who are known for their penchant for the less sexy end of the floor. Anyone can shoot the ball, but it requires a different kind of mentality and dedication to your craft to go out with the willingness to lock down the guy wearing the opposite jersey.

We’re well-versed in the ideology that the current NBA landscape is set up to give scorers the upper hand, and considering how many fantastic scorers we have in today’s league, it makes things increasingly more difficult for guys to actually want to play defense. This is why that call bothers me so much.

Kevin Durant’s offensive versatility will allow him to get into a prime scoring position on Tony Allen eight out of ten times. He’s that good, one of the NBA’s elite scorers. So, I ask, why must the offensive player get rewarded even when the defensive player finally gets a scorer like Durant in a position favorable to him? One swift oscillation of the arms and the offensive player is headed to the free throw line.

The NBA, more than any sport, mirrors real life in the sense that life isn’t fair. I understand this, but shouldn’t the league be working toward making things slightly more fair? If we’re not working toward league-wide parity, at least lessen the chasm that currently sits between the advantages an offensive player receives versus his adversary.

I’m not asking for this swing-through move to be completely eliminated. There have been plenty of times where Durant, or other guys like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant or Paul Pierce, have used this move to perfection.

Give the defender a jab step to create space, if he doesn’t budge, go through your natural shooting position when the defender’s arms get in the way. To me, there is little wrong with this. It’s a tactical, one-on-one battle for position and space.

What isn’t okay is when this move is used as a bail out. I can’t stand when the offensive player throws his arms into the defenders torso and still gets rewarded with free throws. It’s lazy, bad basketball and aesthetically appalling. At some point, we have to recognize the defender’s rights and make this a no call or an offensive foul.

-P. Barnett

P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!


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