This should not be taken as a defense of Dwight Howard, who is petulant and overrated and has an earnings-to-quality-impact ratio that surely ranks among the worst players in NBA history (according to my unofficial basketball analytics).
But this controversy over Howard being caught using Stickum on his hands against the Hawks the other night makes NBA officials look like even bigger clowns than the Howard, and that’s not easy to do.
A league official told the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore that using the sticky substance does not warrant an in-game penalty. Howard may not even get fined. But NBA referee Monty McCutchen clearly believes there’s a rule against it or he wouldn’t have told both benches during a stoppage in play, “Stickum is illegal in the NBA.”
Question for the NBA: If something is illegal, how can there not be any ramifications for breaking the rule? No ejection? No technical foul? No fine? No suspension?
Just, “Don’t do it again, or next time I’ll get really mad“?
UPDATE: The NBA confirmed Howard will not be fined or suspended, via Vivlamore’s blog (linked here). The league circulated a memo that the use of any adhesive substance is prohibited. So I repeat the question: If something is prohibited, how can there not be consequences for breaking the rule? Also, the substance technically was not Stickum but “Quick-Drying Tape Adherent,” which has the same effect.
Howard said he has been using Stickup for five years. He and the Rockets’ suggest there is nothing wrong with using it (Howard: “I don’t know why people are making a big deal about it. I ain’t tripping.”)
OK, Dwight. Then answer me this: If you ain’t tripping, why was the can covered with white athletic tape, as if to intentionally conceal its contents? And why was Houston interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff maneuvering to block McCuthen’s view of the can when he walked over to the Houston bench?
According to Vivlamore, the referee looked at Bickerstaff and said, “I know it’s behind you.”
It was like watching a Marx Brothers movie.
Which reminds me. Remember that scene in “Horsefeathers” when Harpo secretly tied a long elastic band to a football. Of course, it helped him score a touchdown for dear ol’ Huxley.
If you watched the video, Huxley also scored a touchdown when their opponent, Darwin, kept slipping on banana peels thrown onto the field by Harpo. For the record, the NBA has not specific rule against Stickum. It also doesn’t have specific rules against elastic bands or banana peels. But it does have some vague general rule that reads in part, “Equipment that is unnatural and designed to increase a player’s height or reach, or to gain an advantage, shall not be used.”
Using Stickum obviously isn’t going to help Howard shoot a basketball. Indeed, it could explain in part why he’s so awful at free throws, as Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams explained here. (“Maybe that’s why he misses free throws, mate.”)
But theoretically a stick substance could help Howard grab the ball for rebound.
Regardless, the NBA needs to do something to clarify whether Stickum is legal or not. And if it’s not legal, then it needs to have a discipline policy in place for it.
Meanwhile, Howard continues to do what he does best. Nothing. The Rockets are 35-35 and are in danger of missing the playoffs. His contract calls for him to make $22,359,364 this season and $23,282,457 next year. Not sure if that includes Stickum or he must provide his own.
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