NBA's tampering rules laughable

Rockets fined for Howard celebration

Lakers star meets with the media to talk about the center's departure to Houston and how the Achilles' tendon injury is healing.

The NBA has to stop acting like the NCAA.

The league fined the Houston Rockets $150,000 for – get this – talking and tweeting.

The Rockets were, in effect, punished for excessive celebation after Dwight Howard had agreed to sign as a free agent.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted, "Welcome to Houston @DwightHoward!!! Years of work by Dwight & Rockets went into this. This team is going to be special."

Morey also went on television in Houston to confirm the good news.

The NBA says you can not comment about free agents until a moratorium period expires and deals can become official (last Wednesday).

So what if Morey did an end-zone dance after Howard finally made up his mind (a feat in itself)?

The league should have been doing cartwheels: Howard's move just turned Houston into a more attractive TV team. There's new Dwight jerseys to sell at home and in China, where he's big and Yao Ming-approved. Instead, it fined the Rockets for talking out of school.

This is akin to college's governing body suspending an athlete for posing for a frat-house calendar.

Dwight himself announced he was leaving the Lakers on Twitter and every sports Website carried the news like the Pope had stepped down. Dwight actually got scooped by the USA Today that he was becoming a Rocket man.

But Morey and the Rockets had to pretend like none of it happened.

Even though Morey admittedly spent the last two seasons positioning his club for the period when Howard became available, the Rockets get hit for talking but not tampering. I'm not saying they tampered, but the Rockets did everything but build runaway lights from Los Angeles to Houston for Dwight to follow.

Oh, and you better dare not include the names of any free agents in e-mails to your season-ticket holders like the Atlanta Hawks did.

The NBA fined the Hawks an undisclosed amount for supposedly promoting in an e-mail their chances of signing Howard and Chris Paul.

Really?

There actually was nothing factually wrong in that statement: Howard and Paul were the top free agents.

Even the 10,000 or so people who show up to watch basketball in Atlanta knew that. Does the league think that an e-mail would hoodwink customers into buying tickets? Nobody believed the Hawks had a real shot at either Paul and/or Howard.

Certainly if the Hawks had landed a star free agent, Hawks faithful could read the news on these new fangled gadgets called I-phones or see it on this outdated contraption called a television. Then they could bombard the Hawks' ticket telephone lines, where there never has been a need for call-waiting.

It's Atlanta. There's always going to be tickets. There's always going to be plenty of good sections available.

This stuff with the Rockets and the Hawks violates tampering rules?

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