Shaquille O’Neal was a powerful force in the NBA when he got the basketball near the basket, but he was only a .527 career free throw shooter. Teams tried a “hack-a-Shaq” strategy—if he successfully caught the ball near the basket, opposing players would foul (or “hack") O’Neal to send him to the free throw line. “It’s Hack-a-Shaq—the latest in NBA defense” was cited in print in January 1995, when O’Neal played for the Orlando Magic.
Don Nelson, who coached the Dallas Mavericks from 1997 to 2005, applied the strategy against Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls in a December 1997 game, but this is long after “hack-a-Shaq” had been first cited in print. Against a player such as Rodman, the strategy became “hack-a-Rodman,” although the term “hack-a-Shaq” was also used.
“Hack-a-Player” was cited in print in 1998.
Hack-a-Shaq is a basketball strategy initially instituted in the National Basketball Association (NBA) by former Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson to hinder the scoring ability of the opposing team by continuously committing professional fouls against one of its opposing players, the player chosen being the one with the weakest free throw percentage among players on the court.
Nelson initially devised the strategy for use against the Chicago Bulls, specifically power forward Dennis Rodman, who was a poor free throw shooter. However, it ultimately became better-known for its implementation against center Shaquille O’Neal, also known for his low free throw percentage. The name of the strategy is sometimes altered to reflect the player being fouled, for example Hack-a-Dwight for Dwight Howard.
Nelson first employed the tactic against Larry Smith of the Houston Rockets in the early 90’s while coaching the Golden State Warriors. Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls in 1997. Rodman was shooting free throws at 38% on the season entering that game.
30 January 1995, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), “How Do You Stop Shaq? Foul, Foul and Foul Again” by Tim Povtak (Orlando Sentinel), pg. C-6, col. 2:
It’s Hack-a-Shaq—the latest in NBA defense.
As Shaquille O’Neal bids for his first NBA scoring, and the Orlando Magic continue dominating the Eastern Conference, the rest of the league has formalized its defensive strategy.
If O’Neal catches the ball close to the basket, O’Neal will get fouled.
23 April 1995, Rockford (IL) Register Star, “How to forecast the next NBA champ” by Mark Heisler (Los Angeles Times), pg. 2D, col. 5:
Orlando Magic—Shaquille O’Neal. Missed 50 of 80 free throws in one stretch in April. the Celtics are all set to play Hack-a-Shaq, but that makes him mad and it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature or a force of nature.
Orlando (FL) Sentinel
When O’neal Comes Back, So Will Hack-a-shaq
October 26, 1995 | By Jeff Babineau of The Sentinel Staff
The options are simple: Hack the Shaq and put him at the free-throw line, from where he shot 53 percent last season, or let O’Neal have his way down low in the paint, leading to softer fouls and more three-point plays. It seems an easy choice. And as teams look to foul O’Neal, his tremendous size (7 feet 1, 320 pounds) and strength actually work against him.
‘’A man of that power and strength, it takes extraordinary measures to keep him from dunking, and there are times he’s going to be fouled hard,’’ former NBA standout Bill Walton said.
Google Groups: alt.sports.basketball.nba.miami-heat
TRADE TRADE TRADE
TRADE TRADE TRADE TRADE TRADE TRADE TRADE
ZO goes to Miami for Glen RIce, Khalid Reeves and Matt Giger (of hack a shaq fame) The hornets include two possible bench warmers to heat.
30 December 1997, The Advocate (Stamford, CT), pg. B9, col. 5:
Bulls 111, Mavericks 107
CHICAGO—Michael Jordan scored 41 points for his NBA record-tying 787th consecutive double-digit scoring game and Dennis Rodman foiled Don Nelson’s intentional fouling strategy as the Chicago Bulls defeated Dallas 111-105.
Google Groups: alt.sports.basketball.nba.chicago-bulls
Nelson Fouling Rodman
Well, technically it was Wells but obviously Nelson’s idea.
In any event it was PATHETIC. Wells was fouling Rodman when he was inbounding the ball. Wells set a record for fouling out of a game in the least number of minutes.
It is one thing to foul at the end of a game or even foul a poor shooter if he has *the ball in his hands* at least but this was just lame lame lame. Nelson was on the sideline laughing but he should have been too embarrassed to show his face. Thank god the Mavericks fired Cleamons, it takes a *real* coach like Nelson to come up with some punk strategy like that.
By John Nichols
Mankato, MN: Creative Education
They were one of the worst free-throw shooting teams, with the biggest offender being O’Neal. Teams developed a strategy called the “Hack a Shaq” defense. Whenever O’Neal got the ball near the basket, he would be fouled and put on the line rather than given up to the easy clunk. O’Neal missed as many free throws as he made, so the defensive tactic was a success.
Google Groups: alt.sports.basketball.nba.la-lakers
Suggested NBA Rule Changes
If the intentional foul rule IS in fact currently in effect(?), the refs are not enforcing it sufficiently IMO. I agree that too many fast breaks are marred by intentional fouls, and Hack-a-Player should be heavily penalized.
By Pohla Smith
New York, NY: Sports Illustrated for Kids
Although Indiana used the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy, it wasn’t enough. Shaquille did miss more than a few free throws (he was 18 of 39 from the line), but the Lakers would not be denied.
Shaq Talks Back
By Shaquille O’Neal
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
See, Phil started that Hack-a-Shaq defense when he was in Chicago. He had something called the Three- Headed Monster. The Bulls didn’t have an All-Star center, so Phil would get Bill Wennington, Will Perdue, and Luc Longley to use all eighteen of their combined fouls.
I look at Hack-a-Shaq as paying homage to my game. But it is badfor the league. It slows the game down. And it hurts. One more thing. The Hack-a-Shaq doesn’t work. Through December 2000, the Lakers are 30-9 when I shoot more than 16 free throws a game. I make them when they count. Look it up.
Google Groups: rec.sport.basketball.pro
who invented Hack-a-Shaq?
igor eduardo küpfer
| Is this really true? I remember “Hack-A-Shaq” long before Nelson
| was with the Mav’s. I always thought the Chicago media invented it,
| along with “3-headed center.” Phil Jackson’s philosopy was that
| he had 18 fouls to works with, so don’t let Shaq get off a good shot.
I would think the Hack-A-Wilt was around earlier.
But if you’re talking player-specific, I always thought that, technically, Hack-A-Shaq referred to the strategy of not just fouling Shaq, but warning the refs beforehand that you would be doing so, so there was no need to foul him hard. I think Nelson has priority here.
Bleacher Report—Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors: Is Mark Jackson a Dirty Coach?
By Kelly Scaletta , Featured Columnist Jan 13, 2012
Last night in the game against the Orlando Magic, Mark Jackson had his team foul Dwight Howard over and over again. When all was said and done, there were 36 fouls counted on the Golden State Warriors side of the ledger.
So this brings up the question, is Mark Jackson a dirty coach? At what point is the “hack-a-player” mentality crossing the line?
Adam Silver Says NBA to Discuss ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ Rules This Summer
By Joseph Zucker , Featured Columnist Apr 24, 2015
The “hack-a-player” strategy has never been popular among NBA fans, and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has drawn some ire during the playoffs this year for his persistent fouling of Los Angeles Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN.com he will examine ways this summer to dissuade teams from using the tactic, per ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon: ...