NBA Challenge Rule – Hate It Or Love It

The NBA loves the new challenge rule. Coaches? Not so much.

If you were to ask most coaches around the league how they feel about the NBA’s new challenge rule, you would likely get a chorus of “hate it!” Consider Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

In a November 7 game with Milwaukee, Rivers decided to request a challenge of an offensive foul call. Despite video evidence that supported Rivers’ claim, the NBA officiating crew did not overturn their original call.

That has happened more than once and it has happened enough for Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James to comment that NBA referees do not want to be wrong. As a result, referees are hesitant to overturn any of their original calls.

James’ head coach in Los Angeles, Frank Vogel, is only 1-for-6 on challenge calls this season. Ask Vogel how he feels about the new rule and you get the same answer as Rivers.  Interestingly, the numbers on the rule are quite surprising.

Through the end of November, there were a total of 174 challenges requested by coaches. There were 75 challenges that were overturned meaning coaches were successful 43 percent of the time.

The rule, which was put into effect this season, is still not perfect. On November 20, the Celtics played the Clippers and Boston head coach Brad Stevens challenged a call made against Jaylen Brown. Paul George of the Clippers drove to the basket and Brown was called for a block.

The video replay showed that George pushed Boston’s Daniel Theis as he started his drive to the basket. The problem in that case is that officials had to ignore the push because it was not the beginning of George’s “basketball move” that resulted in a shot.

While the league continues to declare the challenge rule a success, none of the 30 NBA head coaches have anything good to say about it. NBA vice president of referee development and training Monty McCutcheon said the league is very pleased with how the new rule has been implemented despite its difficulties. Not one coach has endorsed the rule.