- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MIAMI (AP) - The whistle blew and Heat forward Chris Bosh immediately raised his arms skyward, his way of telling referee Dick Bavetta that he didn’t foul anybody.

As far as outbursts go, it was weak.

Nonetheless, it’ll cost Bosh $2,000.

It’s a scene that’s been repeated around the league throughout this preseason plenty of times _ way too much for the liking of the NBA players association _ and will likely continue when games start counting next week. Stepping toward refs, being demonstrative, even punching the air, it all falls under a newly emphasized respect-the-game umbrella that’s led to a surge in technical fouls league-wide.

“The emotion of the game can never be taken out of the game of basketball,” two-time reigning MVP LeBron James said Monday night. “And that’s when the fans, that’s when the real guys, and the people who are watching and who know the game of basketball will know there’s a problem with the game.

“This game has always been built on emotion,” James added. “And if we try to take that out of the game, the fans won’t like it as much. And without the fans, there’s no game.”

Bosh could only smile after getting his technical. Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson had an incredulous look on his face after he drew a technical moments earlier in the same game Monday night, unsure why he was called for traveling.

So Jackson ran to referee Rodney Mott, an absolute no-no by league decree this season.

“We’ve all got to make adjustments,” Jackson said. “It’s just something I’ve got to deal with. Everybody always says, `Well, they’ve got a target on you.’ It’s part of the game. I’ve just got to be smarter about what I say and what calls I want to talk about.”

Technically, the rules aren’t changing much.

The way they’re being enforced seems like the bigger change.

“I could understand if somebody was yelling, cursing, saying inappropriate things, OK, that’s the reason for a technical,” Bosh said. “They’re very quick to ‘T’ guys up. And I don’t want to give my money away. All I wanted to know is, I wanted to talk about the call. And that was it. And his main emphasis was, put your hands down.”

Never mind that the fine _ which went up this season _ will cost Bosh 0.000138 percent of his $14.5 million salary.

To Bosh, the bigger point was that he didn’t say anything inappropriate to Bavetta, and since he maintained his cool, he wondered why that would have prompted a second whistle.

“I’ve seen a couple of my teammates get technicals for, I’m not going to say nothing,” James said, “but really nothing.”

Across the NBA, plenty of players seem to be agreeing with James‘ sentiments.

“I’m not surprised about the rule,” Denver forward J.R. Smith said. “I mean, the refs are getting tired of us complaining. And sometimes, I think we do go a little too far. But at the same time, it’s in the heat of emotion. You’re trying to win a game. But I understand both sides. I don’t think that would have been at the top of the list of things that needed to be done, but I think something has to be done about it.”

Teams have been shown exactly what the league means during briefings with referees during the preseason. The NBA players association is planning legal action over the league’s decision to issue more technical fouls for complaining, saying last week that it all amounts to “an unnecessary and unwarranted overreaction.”

James sees the merit of emphasizing the policy. That doesn’t mean he’s sold.

James argued a call Monday night, asking for clarification and pleading his case quickly. But he did so without gesturing, without screaming, without posturing _ and therefore, did so without drawing a technical.

The new Heat star says he’s been very aware of the policy when deciding when to engage officials during the preseason.

“You do now. Absolutely,” James said. “I’m a very emotional player. And I feel like there’s times where because of my size and my speed that some of the other calls that may go to certain players, I don’t get because I’m able just to bounce off of it at times. That’s $2,000 for a technical these days, man. It’s not really about the money, but it is. You start writing them up, it’s a lot of money.”

James offered a what-if scenario that he’d dread: Game 7, NBA finals, a judgment call goes against a certain player who reacts angrily. By letter of the law, that’s a technical. Imagine if that decided an NBA championship.

It’s unlikely, of course. Regardless, if the preseason is any indicator, referees have gotten the NBA’s message.

“It’s unfortunate,” Bosh said. “But hopefully, it’ll get better.”


AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York contributed to this report.

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