Technically speaking

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers briefly chatted with his team about changes this season to guidelines on how referees will call technical fouls. But he's going to let the zebras that visit every NBA camp do most of the talking, and therefore receive most of the venom.

"It's been talked about, honestly, but, no, I'm going to wait until the officials show up with the tape," said Rivers. "Then everybody will get upset."

At the referees' annual meeting in Jersey City, N.J., last week, the NBA announced that guidelines for technical will expand to include "overt" player reactions to referee calls. Officials were instructed to whistle technicals for:

  • Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.

  • Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.

  • Running directly at an official to complain about a call

  • Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.

The Celtics have found themselves near the top of the league for technicals in each of the last three seasons, including a league-high 107 during last year's regular season. Rivers joked Thursday that one of the team's goal this season is to finally set the NBA record for team technicals in a season.

"We’re going to set the record again, we’re going to go for it," said Rivers. "Last year, we fell short. This year, we’re going to head out and get it. You gotta have a goal, right?"

Reminded that it will be tough to accomplish without both Rasheed Wallace (retired) and Kendrick Perkins (sidelined into the new calendar year after offseason ACL surgery), Rivers didn't back down.

"It's going to be tough," he admitted. "Think about it: We won't have Perk or Rasheed for the first half, so I don't know how we're going to set it. But we're going to have to work on it."

Rivers noted he was going to refrain from offering too much analysis on the new rules, in fear the league might fine him. But he did expand when asked about how it will affect his emotional team.

"Listen, the game is played with emotion," he said. "That doesn’t mean it has to be negative emotion. It is an emotional game, I just want the officials to see what they call and call what they see, and they’ll be fine. They can’t dehumanize the game. I do think officials are good enough to know that, even on stuff they could call every time, they know the difference when a guy is more upset at himself than upset at the official. We can’t get so caught up in the aesthetics of the game, where it takes away from the actual game of basketball. I think fans would be more upset if we’re calling technicals and now the game is being stopped. I can’t imagine some of the things, [like] 10 seconds left and you call a tech. I know we’re doing it for aesthetics, for the good of the game, and I think it’ll work it’s way into being a pretty good rule."

(Note: Probably just a slip of the tongue, but funny to hear Rivers say that the team won't have "Perk or Rasheed for the first half" of the season. If nothing else, that will do little to stem the line of thought that suggests Wallace could return to the team for a postseason run).