The NZ NBL is hauling in coaches and players for an early plea for a smaller fine or face fronting up before its review panel to face the music for straying from protocol or unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Is the NBL right in its decision to come down hard on such indiscretions to spruce up the code's image or is it robbing basketball of its sheen in what has traditionally been embraced as acceptable jousting that keeps fans entertained?

Well, it's up there with the MVPs — no, not the points in the paint or the rebounds but, supposedly, the cheap shots coaches have been firing at the referees in the National Basketball League this season.

The first-offence $250 fine — reduced to $125 on an early guilty plea — must feel like a steel-capped boot in the kisser this winter for the coaches who have traditionally smooched with the boundaries of intimidating and ridiculing the blokes in black and beige, much to the amusement of parochial fans and chagrin of officials.

It's the first year the NBL has