The Miami Heat were 5 years old and Kevin Loughery was in his third season at the helm when he used the spill-a-drink tactic for a free timeout, the former coach says.
But the trick that Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd was fined $50,000 for last week predates even the early Heat years, according to Loughery.
Loughery, speaking in a telephone interview with the New York Daily News on Sunday, didn't call it the oldest trick in the book. But he said he used the gimmick several times in his 20 years as an NBA and ABA head coach, the last one coming in the 1994 playoffs.
"There are different ways you can do it," Loughery told the newspaper from his home in Virginia. "You can have the players spill it. You can have one of the ball boys do it.
"They can't fine the ball boys, I don't think."
Loughery, 73, said he would use the unsuspecting ball boy as his proxy.
"'Just pour some water on the floor,'" Loughery said he would tell them. "He really had no idea what I was talking about until he sees the results."
For his part, Kidd said he was just "trying to win" when he intentionally spilled his drink on the court. Kidd was fined $50,000 on Thursday with the NBA saying he intentionally spilled his drink as a stall tactic.
Loughery said he was surprised by the amount of Kidd's fine even considering the salaries of head coaches these days.
"I know guys are making way more money now, but that's an outrageous fine for that," Loughery said, according to the Daily News. "I guess the league doesn't want any more of it. ... I can't believe they would fine a guy $50,000 for that.
"I think it's a great move. You're trying to win games. And, in all honesty, there were no rules against it. I don't think Kidd deserved to get fined at all."
Kidd bumped into Brooklyn reserve Tyshawn Taylor with 8.3 seconds left Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, causing his drink to spill. A video of the play showed Kidd seeming to ask Taylor to "hit me" as the guard walked toward the bench.
The Nets had time to draw up a play while the floor was being cleaned after the spill but still lost 99-94.
"He shouldn't have said ... 'hit me,'" said Loughery, who coached the New York Nets to two ABA titles in the early 1970s. "He should have just dropped it. He overacted."
Ultimately, Loughery, coaching the Heat in his last full season, ran out of tricks as Miami fell in five games to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of 1994 playoffs.
But he certainly has no regrets over what he still considers a crafty move.
"We saved a timeout, and it really paid off," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.