Dwight Howard shot 39 free-throws on Thursday, breaking a single-game record that had been held by Wilt Chamberlain for nearly 50 years. Chamberlain once attempted 34 foul shots in a game on February 22, 1962 -- just a couple weeks before his absurd 100-point outing against the New York Knicks. Chamberlain, in case you weren't aware, averaged 50.4 points, 25.7 rebounds and 48.5 minutes per game in 1962, in what is unquestionably the most statistically-incomparable single-season in NBA history, and probably sports history. So for a modern day player to actually supplant one of his seemingly-impossible benchmarks really is impressive, even if it's more a record brought on by futility than an actual accomplishment.
Now I can hear what some of you guys are going to say about this: (Or maybe it's dementia kicking in. But either way...) "This is horrible. We don't watch basketball to see a guy go to the line 39 times. It slows the game down and makes it boring to watch. Get it out of the game." And I would be inclined to agree with you... sort of.
If this was an epidemic, if these ridiculous foul-shooting numbers started popping up every other day, with DeAndre Jordan shooting 30 free-throws and Andrew Bogut shooting 20 free-throws, then yeah, I'd say a rule would need to be established to prevent this from happening all the time. However, this was a pretty unusual event. Coming into this game, the most freebies Howard had taken in a game was 14, so I doubt this will become a trend or anything. Plus, as long as it isn't being exploited to the point that it makes the game unwatchable, I don't mind seeing teams take advantage of the one obvious, glaring flaw in Dwight Howard's game.
Another reason why I don't think a rule needs to be enacted to cancel Hack-a-Shaqing is that the teams that do it almost always do so in defeat. The Magic won last night. Shaquille O'Neal, for whom the intentional foul strategy is based off of, had 10 playoff games in 2001 in which he shot 20 free-throws, and the Lakers went 9-1 in those games -- not to mention going 3-0 that year in regular season games where he went to the line 20 times. And the games in 1962 that Chamberlain shot 30 free-throws (the second being the 100-point game)? His team won both games. So let's be clear that while this tactic is annoying to sit through, it's only seen in pure desperation, and isn't something likely to catch on anytime soon.