"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Southampton, PA (Sports Network) --
That is the problem with accumulating wealth. It is an erroneous notion that one had to be clever, gifted, talented, educated, somewhat intellectual, knowledgeable and wonderfully erudite about the very thing that has bestowed such riches on those whom we have a propensity to envy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Money does not mean smart.
Enter the NBA. They rubbed a basketball one day and along came Wilt Chamberlain. They coveted more and the genie of hoops did not let them down. Their aspirations were not limited to three wishes. Hardly. Before the smoke had cleared they were granted Julius Erving, then Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and, finally, the genie's most coveted boon of all, Michael Jordan. The autocracy of the sport spent many a day in ER from trying to pat themselves on the back for that with which they had little, or nothing, to do. It was typical imperialism - take credit for everything in sight in the hope that you might, however, remotely, actually be responsible for some minutiae of a happening.
A young Wilt Chamberlain dominated basketball while attending Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, and then the University of Kansas, before playing in the NBA.
When Wilt was making lay-ups faster than the scorekeeper could mark them down the royal house of round ball widened the lane. When it became necessary to show more points and make the game a jump shooter's dream the three point shot was invented. As the players became better and better, hand contact was permitted and the WWF hired as consultants. Stars of the sport were given every advantage and lesser known players found that the only way to get their names into the box score was via the personal foul route.
The NBA instituted the illegal defense and the permissiveness of the referees made it about as plausible as squaring the ball would have been. Then we had zebras who could not see over the waistline of most of the players calling goal tending when 90% of the shots were on the way up, not down. The game was out of hand but Julius, Larry, Magic and Michael kept it alive.
Then they left.
Party over. Ratings down. Interest lacking. Players undressed as hoodlums. Body contact in style. Tattooing more important than intelligence. Professional basketball became a jump shooter's paradise, the set shot was laid to rest, lay-ups dunked in every manner imaginable with most copied by the New York City Ballet and those with little or no regard for their bodies driving between the redwoods looking for a foul and a lucky shot. It became the world of Kobe, Shaq, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter and dozens of others whose skills were honed carefully but, as great as they were statistically, very limited.
Now, in desperation...and it is just that, make no mistake about it...the game that was supposed to be ringing up incredible scores this past year, but which colleges and the WNBA are outscoring, is trying to improve itself. Actually, as is usually the case, those not playing are trying to improve it. The owners in their super boxes and Bentleys. The NBA is sloppy, it is boring and predictable, the players have little discipline and great games between teams, not individual players, are few and far between.
So, the board of governors comes in from the golf course and tries to make some changes, proclaiming to all that will listen that they are for the best.
Zone defenses will be allowed. The only way Allen Iverson will get to the basket is with bodyguards in an armored tank carrier. Kareem Abdul Jabbar will sign a multi-million dollar consulting contract with someone to teach their center(s) the art of the hook shot. Jump shooters have been seen salivating throughout the league. The best of the three point shooters have already contacted their agents to discuss renegotiation of their contracts.
A defensive 3-second rule will be instituted; limiting the amount of time a defensive player may stand in the lane when he is not closely guarding anyone. So I take it that the zone defense takes place outside of the lane but you have to check your insurance policy as you begin to drive and watch the lane close faster than the Red Sea under Moses' command. As the action heats up who the heck is going to be watching, counting and checking where the nearest offensive player is and what does "closely guarding" mean?
The time required for a team to get the ball past the midcourt line will be reduced to eight seconds instead of ten. Reaching??!?!? The obvious is that more teams will press and the truth is that this will be totally ineffectual and do nothing to improve the game. The ball will simply come across the middle faster...one thousand one, one thousand two. Beep, it is over.
Brief contact initiated by a defensive player, if it does not impede the progress of a player with the ball, will be allowed. Are they kidding or are they just dumb? Someone, please, tell me what "brief contact" is. In the NBA to date it has been defined as mayhem. And, does the offensive player just shout, "Hey, he is impeding my progress!!" Judgment calls left to the referees at this level are better not made at all. The striped ones will now totally screw up the game more than it has ever been and the one thing of which we can be certain is that there will be more technicals called on coaches than ever before.
Those who favor the changes will simply say that the players will adjust...as they always have. Probably, under duress and at the expense of what is left of the game. Scores will be lower, arguments more frequent, drives to the basket a thing of the past, jump shooting the option of choice for the offense and run 'n gun will be the new name of the game. And, the league's lack of perimeter shooters will now be completely visible. No more hiding in the shadows.
Shaq and Tim Duncan have applied for gun permits. Triple teaming will be in vogue and announcers are already searching for new ways to describe it as they continue to obliterate the language and bastardize it beyond recognition.
Contrary to what some advocates of the changes are saying, the game will not return to greatness with team basketball, unselfish play, passing, moving, cutting, setting picks and shooting. But attendance is down, TV ratings have dipped every season and the $2.64 billion that NBC and TNT put forth for four years in '98 looks like a dumb and dumber move that belongs in a space capsule.
Should the NBA be applauded for trying something, anything at all with the underlying hope that coaches with Swiss bank accounts will now actually turn their attention to coaching and that the game will improve? You gotta be kidding!