Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New World (basketball) Order Draws Nearer

Word from today is that the D-League will soon implement FIBA goaltending rules, meaning players will be able to swat the ball off the rim any time after it's touched the rim.

Previously the league operated under NBA rules, where players had to avoid the ball if it was in an "invisible cylinder" over the rim whenever the ball was directly over the basket.
NBDL brass made the move ostensibly to juice up the game with more jumping sequences showing off the players' world-class athleticism. The league will crunch reams of data to determine how the rule change affects game tempo - and whether fans like it. That information, in turn, should determine whether the NBA decides to adopt the rule down the line.
On the surface, this is one more step toward a global game. FIBA, for its part, is reaching out, too. The world's governing body for basketball is this season abandoning the trapezoid lane in favor of an NBA-sized rectangular lane, and moving the 3-point line back by a half-meter (19½ inches) from its current distance of 20 feet, 6.1 inches.

But this change could also help the U.S. team in future FIBA international tournaments if some season down the line NBA players were to go own strike as they did in 1998-99. In the preceding summer, the labor disputes forced Team USA had to cobble together a team of CBA, college and international players for the 1998 FIBA World Championship.

They did surprisingly well by going 7-2 and capturing the bronze medal, but it's safe to assume that such a squad wouldn't have fared quite as well today given the increased strength of world competition.

If such a labor dispute were to again afflict Team USA - whether it be during the Worlds, Olympics or FIBA Americas - it would likely cobble together international players and NBDL stars, who will soon be more accustomed to international rules.

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