As the season goes on, there is one thing to celebrate above all else: The NBA’s rule change concerning fouling to stop the fast break. As you may remember last season, seemingly each fast break was ground to a halt as players and teams exploited this loophole, resulting in what may have been the most shameful strategy in what King-of-Hyperbole and former announcing legend Bill Walton would have called “The Worst Basketball in the History of Western Civilization.”
Last season, as we watched the death of the fast break and waited interminably for the wheels of justice to turn, basketball suffered until finally perhaps at a meeting in a Marriott or maybe just in the woods during the offseason, NBA masterminds decided to do something about it with the invention of the “take foul”, which gives the fouled team a technical free throw and the ball if their fast break attempt was unfairly destroyed.
Now that this travesty has been corrected, let’s turn our watchful eyes into what else, both in the rule book and in NBA culture, needs possible attention. Here are my top three, in no particular order. Feel free to add more in the comments!
Video Review time
You can’t have missed the NBA’s attempt to correct bad calls during the game. Here it is in real time:
7:42 — The game is ground to a halt.
7:43 — The Refs convene like three angry men/women in front of a replay screen.
7:46 — The players lounge on the bench, stiffening up.
7:47 — Fans dawdle on their phones, following people who are somewhere more interesting and exciting than an NBA game.
7:52 — Older coaches are spotted napping.
7:53 — Pizza hut commercial
7:55 — Apparently back at command in Secaucus, New Jersey, we’re told, the CIA, NSA and FBI are triangulating on whether Javale McGee was outside the restricted area, whether he maintained verticality, and if he owes any back taxes.
7:59 — Finally, they reach a conclusion, and only with the announcer’s help and 15th replay do we even remember what the disagreement was about, definitely not caring anymore.
8:02 — Like a child in a school play, an unfortunate ref is forced in front of the camera in an uncomfortable closeup to provide the details in a legal briefing to the American audience. Like all refs (a brave and foolish lot and a true and enduring, and I mean enduring, American character), he stumbles through all his lines and announces the call stands.
So here is my plea: NBA overlords, everything else during the game is timed. Quarters, shot clock, half time, even pre-game. So just put these challenges on a 30 second shot clock, and if a conclusion can’t be reached, move on. It’s not the OJ trial, let’s keep the game moving!
Okay, moving on to more rule changes! Best I can figure, the following term will be an umbrella term that solves everything from flopping, flagrant fouls, and especially intentional fouls. Get ready for this beautiful and useful phrase: “Non-basketball play.”
All fakery and bad sportsmanship will fall under the threat of this phrase as they are awarded technicals in return. There are and will always be players bending the rules, it’s up to the refs to keep basketball about skills, not acting and bending or breaking rules. Here is a useful case where we can see the benefits:
Player A drives to the basket, senses a mosquito level of contact, and explodes backward as if a grenade has detonated.
In today’s game, he then marches to the line with his arm in a sling, a sly smile on his face, and a call already into all of San Antonio’s pack of hugely prominent injury lawyers. In my proposed fantasy though, he is given not an Oscar, but a technical accompanied by a very heavy trophy with Naismith's likeness on it he must lug around as penance, and also a random player from the 80’s Detroit Pistons comes on court to really foul him so he’s clear for next time on the definition.
(Insert “Get off my lawn!” rant here). Money in the NBA is going to ruin this game, so what I’m about to propose is ludicrous and bordering on communism, but just consider it as a thought experiment. Here’s my pitch:
Everyone gets paid the same, with bumps for seniority. But for each game, you make X amount of money for winning. Same for playoffs series, And definitely same for the championship. Basketball after all is supposed to be a break from the financial struggles of life, it’s supposed to be entertainment, inspiring, and fun. The business side is looming in the public eye too much. And tanking — get used to this idea at the peril of your competitive soul.
Got any more changes you would like to see? Add them in the comments below, and thanks for reading, Spurs nation!