OK, I know I’m not going to earn a lot of praise nor support for suggesting this, but the NBA should bring back hand checking. It would balance the scales of time and allow us to see just how well the likes of Derrick Rose would fare against someone like Derek Harper, a hand checking hip riding defensive demon, who earned a high ranking in my podcast co-host’s and FanSided’s own Miami Heat writer Brandon LaChance’s top 200 rankings. While I considered Harper, I left him off for just that reason: I don’t think the top defenders of the physical era would fare as well now. But that isn’t really the point of what I am getting at.
Hand checking enables defenders to counter balance themselves when they are shaken off balance. It is a necessary check to enable defenders to play physically with perimeter offensive players, a measure that enables good defenders to stop the likes of Allen Iverson, or Isiah Thomas, players that are going to burn defenders if they are unable to hand check.
Another great hand checker, Haywood Workman, now works as an NBA referee.
It’s been a recurrent theme of my recent writing to try to throw the NBA back to the way it was. It’s not all nostalgia, though. A lot of it is just a desire to see basketball as a physical, CONTACT sport. It has fallen further and further away from the kind of game that rewards aggressive defenders and allows big men to play without being encumbered by ticky tack fouls.
There were a number of great hand checking defenders, another that sticks out in my mind is now-referee Haywood Workman. Workman made a career of playing hard nosed defense and started for the Pacers in the early 90s because of it. His tenure as a starter didn’t last long, but with today’s rules regarding hand checking, it is dubious as to whether Workman could defend anywhere near as well.
I guess fans like to see high scoring; but I should say most fans. I certainly love a physical slugfest, perhaps because I played physically myself when I played in college. I loved boxing out guys that were 4 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than myself, and to do that you have to be physical. Just let players play again, stop making things too easy on offenses.