NBA's New 90-Second Pregame Ritual Limit Shows League Has Gone Too Far

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 10:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat throws chalk in to the air before their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on January 10, 2012 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

And you thought your boss was a micro-manager.

Fresh off announcing the NBA would begin penalizing players for flopping, the league has now decided to cap the time teams have between introductions and opening tip to 90 seconds.

This means LeBron James has just 90 seconds to engage in "chalk tossing" and some lighthearted shadow boxing with teammate Dwyane Wade. It means Kevin Durant and the Thunder have just a minute and a half to embrace each other as teammates.

It also means that the league has officially gone too far.

We sat through the lockout as the NBA struggled to operate in good faith. We stood idly by as the Association missed the mark on flopping and decided that it made more sense to deflate a player's wallet than to penalize them during the game, where the flop originated.

And now, we're supposed to believe the league has the game's best interests at heart, implementing such a policy to ensure the game moves faster.

Do you believe that? Neither do I.

Because it's ridiculous, as Kurt Heilin of NBC Sports' ProBasketballTalk blog notes:

Apparently this is an effort to speed up the game, part of an across the board effort. It smells of some television executives’ complaints in the form of a memo to the league. Of course, if the league really wanted to speed up the game one fewer television timeout per half would do it. But we know that is never going to happen, so the players putting on a show for fans must be curtailed.

There comes a point when the NBA has to realize that it cannot have control over every aspect of the game itself. I mean what's next, scripted games? Acknowledging Tim Donaghy as an innovator?

No, let's instead call this what it is—stupid.

If the league truly wanted to speed up games, why not allot one fewer commercial break per half, like Heilin suggests? Oh damn, that's right, we can't take money out of the league's pocket. Silly us.

I'm not saying fans live for the players' pregame rituals or their handshakes and back-pats prior to opening tip, but certain traditions, like LeBron's, have become a trademark of the league; something fans enjoy watching.

So much so, in fact, I'm surprised the NBA doesn't charge the company who makes the substance a pile of money and plaster their logo or mission statement on the screen whenever James throws it into the air.

And what about the teams that engage in prayer before the game? I understand religion is a taboo subject that the league isn't likely to touch with a 20-foot pole, yet this new rule essentially restricts a team's freedom to express it. Go figure.

But this has nothing to do about the players, the fans or religion. After all, it never does.

This has to do with television, about the almighty dollar. It always does.

The longer a game goes without a commercial break, the less revenue the NBA and the network in question generate. And what a shame that would be.

But while money makes this league go round, couldn't the league be more creative in its attempt to "speed up" the process, instead of stifling the creativity that is now associated with pregame rituals?

Couldn't they be more innovative in their quest to generate as much revenue as possible? Like how about capitalizing off of James and Wade's shadow boxing sessions by selling a sponsorship to Everlast?

Call me crazy, tell me this doesn't really matter—I don't care. The fact is, anything that can cause the perpetually content Kevin Durant to become disconcerted or is significant enough to warrant any kind of reaction from the ever-poised Doc Rivers matters.

Just because it matters, though, doesn't mean it's not stupid. Because it is.

But I'm sure this will get lost in the shuffle and relegated to the back burner just like everything else we have ignored.

After all, the show must go on.

If the NBA allows it to, that is.