NBA Rule Change Proposals to Make Playing LeBron and Heat More Fair
It's now virtually indisputable: LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet.
He owns four of the top 11 single-season player efficiency ratings in the history of the NBA. He is the only player in history to average at least 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a season while shooting at least 55 percent from the field. And on Sunday, he will win his fourth MVP award in five seasons.
In fact, LBJ is so good, we really need to figure out how to LeBron-proof the NBA.
Remember Tiger-proofing? Right after Tiger Woods won his first Masters going away, golf courses on the PGA Tour literally changed their tee and pin positioning to "make the course fair for all golfers."
They didn't think it was good for the sport that one guy was so much better than everybody else…even though golf ratings were never higher. To this day, I'd guess a vast majority of golf fans still want to know Tiger's score before anyone else's—despite Mr. Woods' oh-so-public squandering of his limitless cache of goodwill years ago.
LeBron admittedly has, like Tiger, fallen off his pedestal, albeit in a vastly less ignoble manner. But just as Tiger's dominance coincided with golf's zenith of post-Nicklaus-and-Palmer popularity, LeBron's dominance has helped the NBA transition to a new generation without missing a beat.
Moreover, his presence has made the Miami Heat the best basketball team on the planet as well. The Heat are the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA Championship for a second straight year, and they're the first team to win 27 straight games since before the three-point shot was implemented.
So for anyone rooting for the 29 franchises LeBron doesn't suit up for, here are some rule changes that might level the playing field a bit.
Implement North Korean Rules
Not surprisingly, North Korea likes its basketball strange. And we don't mean Dennis Rodman in a dress.
Check out this breakdown from the website Foreign Policy:
…North Korea has developed its own scoring system for the game: three points for a dunk, four points for a three pointer that doesn't touch the rim, and eight points for a basket scored in the final three seconds (my bold)…a missed free throw means minus one point.
So LeBron's Miami Heat are cruising along, up by a comfortable seven-point margin over the Golden State Warriors, when on the Warriors' last possession, boom! Stephen Curry hits from outside as time runs out.
Heat cooled. Game over.
All of a sudden, no Miami lead would be insurmountable.
Only one problem with this: Something tells me most of the time, James will be the guy hitting with fewer than three seconds remaining.
Make Goaltending Legal
Come on, admit it: Aren't you a little bit tired of the dunkathons NBA games have become?
With Bill Russell back in the spotlight offering sage advice to Kyrie Irving's Uncle Drew, let's take the game back to the way it was before Russell roamed the parquet.
Let's bring back goaltending.
Russell was so adept at swatting shots that he forced the league to create the rule. If goaltending were back, the dunk would go out of vogue. The rejection would become the new posterizing, and the thing to excel at.
It would be an entirely different conversation for the eight-year-old kid on his driveway court, talking to himself as the play-by-play guy: "Five seconds left...LeBron puts up a shot...oh, and it's blocked by little Timmy Smith! Brooklyn wins the championship!"
Imagine what Dwight Howard would be able to accomplish were he able to camp out at the rim and bat away shots like King Kong batting down helicopters.
Block you, 'Bron…
Force All Direct-from-High-School Players to Attend College
Wanna stop LeBron from schooling others? Just make him get schooled.
Why not? After all, kids now have to attend college for at least one year. Grandfathering these direct-to-the-pros players really isn't the just thing to do.
Yes, some other players are going to get caught in the crossfire, most notably the entire Milwaukee Bucks starting backcourt. But other than that, who are we gonna lose for a year?
Andrew Bynum? Heck, he may never be on the court for another jump ball anyway. Josh Smith is snarly, DeSagana Diop's game is gnarly, Amar´e Stoudemire, Stephen Jackson and Kwame Brown are pretty much done anyway.
Amir Johnson needs to go back, because no matter what facial hair he nurtures, he still looks like the star of 21 Jump Street II: The College Years.
I'd miss Al Jefferson and J.R. Smith. But just think what a B-12 shot the rule would be for the college game. For one year, anyway.
And with LeBron LeGone, it wouldn't be such a feat to beat the Heat. Plus he'd probably get a four-year degree in one year. The guy's that good.
I suggest you major in criminal justice, LBJ. After all, you're used to being in a court full of Witnesses.
Allow Free Throw Blocking
No, I don't mean blocking out. I mean blocking.
Yeah, they're called 'free' throws because you're supposed to be free from interference when shooting them. But that makes it way too easy for LeBron, who scored 5.3 of his 26.8 points per game from the charity stripe, and was sixth in the league in free throw attempts.
The rule would be simple: Once the player cocks his hand back, all's fair.
Let's see how fine you are from the line with a hand in your face, LeBron.
Install Sensurround at All NBA Arenas
If we really want to level the playing field, all we need to do is rock LeBron's world.
Long before the advent of sissy movie audio enhancements like Dolby, there was Sensurround.
A rather bizarre technology installed in theatres in the 1970s for just a handful of movies, Sensurround used strategically placed high-decibel speakers to cause the theatre to shake—I mean violently shake.
The result: The audience felt like they were in the middle of an earthquake (while watching the movie Earthquake), in the middle of a war (while watching the movie Midway) or riding a runaway rollercoaster (while watching the movie Rollercoaster).
LeBron's always feeling his shots. Why not make him feel Sensurround instead, and see if it shakes things up a bit?
How would it work? Anytime LeBron is spotting up for a jumper, the official Sensurround proctor simply flips a switch. Presto: the court begins to shake.
It's fair, right? I mean, the floor would shake equally for LeBron and whomever is guarding him. But I bet LeBron's shooting percentages—40 percent or better from everywhere on the floor—would fall off dramatically.
Heck, we could even do it on his drives to the hoop, where he hit 77 percent of his shots and 98 percent of his dunks.
How many rim-rattlers would 'Bron stiff if the rim were actually rattling?
King James has been wearing one since he was a mere prince, back in high school—heck, probably long before that.
What would his game be like with sweat running down his face, into his eyes? Would he still be lights-out from virtually everywhere on the floor? Or would he just spend most of his time squinting like Charles Bronson?
And if you're worried about whom else you'd affect, fret not. Jason Terry won't be in the league much longer. I'll admit, DeMarcus Cousins will likely throw a tantrum about the rule change. But by now, we have a name for DeMarcus Cousins' tantrums: Tuesday.
David Stern was successful in implementing a dress code. This could be the last move he makes, and one which would make every franchise competitive. What better legacy for an outgoing commissioner to leave?
LeBron James with salt in his eyes would sound awfully sweet to the rest of the NBA.
Institutde a Penalty After 25 Points
This one's an equalizer of the highest magnitude, where guys like, say, Brandon Rush could end up with stats like LeBron and Carmelo Anthony.
After one player has scored 25 points, each time he were fouled, he'd have to shoot his free throws from the spot of the foul.
Translation: After 25 points, LeBron would start getting mugged the moment he got the ball. Oh, and he'd never make it past midcourt.
Of course, James would probably still hit 25 percent of his 75-foot charity stripe attempts. But it would be likely that after the penalty kicked in, teams would feed guys other than their high scorers. So finally the NBA's mediocre would stand a chance at double-digit scoring.
And the rest of the NBA's franchises would stand a chance, period.