5 Rule Changes We Would Love to See in the NBA Before Next Season
The NBA is becoming almost as offensively driven as the NFL has over the past few seasons, and with a committee in place to determine some substantive rules going forward, the NBA could have some very different outlooks when the season tips next season.
Commissioner David Stern is already on record as saying flopping is a serious problem, and that's certainly something that could be eliminated as we enter into the slow portion of the NBA calendar.
Here's a look at five rule changes we'd love to see in the NBA next season, and some ways it would affect the current game play in the league.
A Re-Examination of the Travel
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While it's not a new rule, it's time to eliminate some of the moves that make players more effective than running backs in the NFL. Blatant travels, picking up pivot foots and even a lack of the two-foot jump stop are diluting the game.
Sure, they make for more exciting, acrobatic finishes around the rim, but at what cost? We don't let five-year-olds run around with the ball when we're teaching them what a travel is. Why should we let LeBron James, James Harden or Manu Ginobili get away with an extra step?
The league has "points of emphasis" every summer during officials' training. One of those emphasis points should be enforcing the travel, even when it isn't a popular call or it slows the game down. It's one of the first rules we teach kids learning to play the game, so let's not let the professionals live above the law.
Photography, Media Personnel Back Away from the Court
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It's easy to jump on the media for shortcomings. As a member of the journalistic community, I'll admit firsthand that if I had a press pass or was a photographer, getting the best shot possible at the action would be priority one, especially if the league is going to give me that kind of access.
I watch games and cringe when guys like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose attack the rim. There's so much equipment, body parts and baggage down on the court that these guys are all literally one false step away from ending their careers.
Media is important. Heck, it's part of my job. But photographers, with today's technology, can't get a good shot another five feet back off the court? Is it necessary for ESPN's announcers to broadcast with what seems like maybe two feet between them and the sideline?
It's time we back these people up, before one of the media darlings is injured beyond repair, and then, something is forced into action.
No More "Hack-a-Player" Away from the Ball
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San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich got a taste of some of his own medicine when Scott Brooks decided to implement the "Hack-A-Splitter" approach in the Oklahoma City Thunder's series against the Spurs.
It's something Pop used against Shaquille O'Neal back in the day, and something coaches used against Blake Griffin this season.
Personally, while good strategy and within full rights of the current league rules, I'm all for the elimination of this tactic when it's away from the ball. Now, if Brendan Haywood has the ball late in the game, foul away. He should be smart enough to know that's not his job late with a lead.
But running up the court and fouling a player 92 ft. from the rim never seemed like basketball to me.
It was always just a weak excuse at either showing how big Shaq's hands really were or slowing down the pace of the game to an unbearable bore, especially for people who struggle with the concept of how long it actually takes to finish the last two minutes of an NBA game (anywhere from five to 30 real-time minutes).
League Review of Flopping
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Somewhere along the way, it became OK for players to grunt and howl at a high-pitch moan to convince the official that he was mugged in defending the basket.
Three from this season come to mind. LeBron's blatant flop against the Knicks in the playoffs, Chris Paul's flop on an official, and pretty much, any time James Harden or Manu Ginobili get hit, they're going to the floor.
It happens on offense, it happens of defense and it happens in the full-court game. Personally, I'm sick of it being part of the game. I don't think technical fouls merit the situation. I do think, however, the league would benefit an institution of video analysis of huge flops from games, and fining players for taking things too far.
That way, the official's discretion is still at play, the game is still somewhat sped up without delay of video replay and those that choose to still defy rules are punished where it hurts most—the pocketbook.
Less Emphasis on the Hand Check
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I think eliminating the defensive player's use of their hands in the game have helped breed more flopping. Where physical, tough defenders were found not too long ago, in their place are complacent, following defenders who only want to get back to playing offense because defense is too hard.
The two-hand check should always be a foul. But on the perimeter, where the defense is already so severely disadvantaged, it's not even funny. Allow some of that contact to go uncalled. Don't let the official bail Harden out because he chunks his arms to the high heavens.
It's always going to be an offensive league, but they could help cut out some of this flopping nonsense by also allowing physical defense. The chain reaction would help the league cut down on unnecessary whistles and get back to an NBA where people weren't calling for fouls each time they were breathed on.
Basketball is a man's game. Let's hope the rule changes in 2012-2013 reflect that.