The NBA's competition committee has been discussing a handful of potential rule tweaks, but the most interesting one involves taking a page out of the NFL's book by instituting challenge flags.
According to Grantland's Zach Lowe, Stu Jackson, the NBA's vice president of basketball operations, relayed a number of changes the committee had discussed in a chat with reporters:
Among them: a potential “challenge flag” system for coaches to use only in the last two minutes of regulation and overtime. The committee did not come to a consensus on that issue, though they did agree that if the league does adopt such a system, they should at first use it in postseason games only. Coaches would get only one challenge per game.
This isn't a new idea in the NBA. David Stern mentioned a challenge system as recently as 2011.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Stern said two years ago: "We might have one person whose job it is to keep the headphones on and always watch. And you might let a coach throw the flag in the last two minutes. We're striving for accuracy."
On a serious note, anything the league can do to get more calls right is a good thing—provided the process doesn't make a major negative impact on the game itself. But who cares about that stuff? We've got the potential to have coaches tossing stuff at officials during the game!
Who wouldn't want to watch Gregg Popovich trying to "get the attention" of Joey Crawford by whipping a red bean bag at him? The comedic potential here is immense.
Firing projectiles onto the floor probably isn't the best idea, so it's more likely that the "flag" will be a bit more figurative than the NFL's version. Perhaps coaches will alert officials in the same way they do for timeouts. Or maybe there will be some kind of alert button involved.
Obviously, the logistics are far from settled, but the idea is sound.
With the final seconds ticking off of Stern's clock as commissioner, he'll probably be looking to tie up a few loose ends before he cedes control to Adam Silver in 2014. And one of the issues that has been a persistent bother during the latter portion of Stern's administration is the vocal minority that complains about his office's alleged conspiratorial efforts to fix the outcomes of games.
You know who those types are. They live on message boards and inhabit the lower reaches of the Twittersphere, ready to spin any free-throw discrepancy or missed call into a case for a league-wide fix job.
Engaging any of the wingnuts who subscribe to that theory in a logical discussion typically reveals an unfounded opinion, but Stern still must be conscious of the whispers that he (or those he employs) are predetermining the results.
To that end, using any means necessary to remove human error from the critical portions of important games is a shrewd move.
And who knows? If the challenge flag takes off, maybe a few other imports from the NFL will soon follow. I, for one, would very much like to see headsets, laminated play sheets and sleeveless sweatshirts make their way to the NBA sidelines.
Show me a fan who says he doesn't want to see Erik Spoelstra sporting some Bill Belichick gear and I'll show you a liar.
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