5 Ways To Fix The NBA For Next Season

Players Are Better, How Is The League?

During a David Stern interview the other day he was discussing changesthey were considering for next season. He stated people were ‘very excited’ about the new Euro-style cylinder rule. Once the ball has touched the rim a player may scoop it off without penalty.

My brain bleeds a lot but never so much as when I hear Stern’s occupational pretenses. His job supposedly has to do with basketball and it’s quality. His paid for interviewers are about as hard on him as Vanity on Smurfette.

With the league in dire straits, scandals and economics that’s the best they’ve got? There’s bad refs, a founded perception of rigged games, refs working for the mob, rules who’s threat to negatively alter the outcomes of games/series increases with competitiveness.

Typical Stern Interview: Leaf Points South: Check!

So here at Full Court Pest we’ll do a bit of Commish work free of charge. If only he would accept it. Without further adeiu, 5 sure fire ways to fix (or at least improve) the NBA for next season.

5. The ‘Leave The Bench’ Rule And Near Automatic Suspensions MUST Be Changed

An authoritative ‘judge’ (aka: commissioner) is charged with making calls on issues that are not self-evident. That’s why you have the position. Thats why its a ‘ruling’ and not a ‘summary of obvious events.’ Mandatory sentencing (and suspensions) are a cop out removing the onus of decisions from that appointed decision maker. David Stern has got to grow a pair and accept the responsibility of simply doing his job.

Stern is afraid of image. He made the leave the bench rule to hide both NBA fights and his ineptitude behind. Countless NBA series have been ruined. The best in recent memory, Suns/Spurs, was over and ruined the moment Amare left the bench even though realized what he was doing and turned around before reaching the fracas and contributing to it.

Which Jersey Got Punished For Plays Like This?
David Stern’s reaction was “How am I supposed to be able to know his intentions? I can’t read his mind!” You’re the freaking commissioner… you’re job is to make a judgment in the interests of the league and competition. Instead he issued automatic suspensions handing the series to the Spurs and ruining a fair outcome. Stern had his mandatory rule to follow and put his own stubborn image as ruler of the league in front of the game itself.

How many series have been ruined by this rule? The great Knicks/Heat showdown in the 90’s. Shot dead when most of the team was thrown out for an entire game. Its a rule that punishes emotion in Stern’s childish fear of the thug image. The higher the competition gets, the more drama and emotion build up, the better the games. That’s a fact. The side effect is the chances of an incident also increase. That increases someone’s foot crossing a line by an inch and nothing else happens, yet that can determine who wins a series. I call bullshit.

Its a strategy now. Get a less important player to sucker punch the other team’s leader in front of their bench. When their players naturally react and cross the line they are suspended. Thats how Robert Horry, premeditated or not, essentially won the Suns series for the Spurs. Its pathetic and needs to be fixed as it was the Spurs irresponsible intense physicality that causes the blow up yet the Suns were punished.

This along with the suspending players for ‘unsportmanlike’ acts that really don’t make impact on other players or the game have to go. Elbows and punches happen when you play intense sports at the highest levels. Punishing a player for being blatantly violent makes sense. Punishing a player for being blatantly competitive to be consistant with punishing the violent player is absolutely another.

Lastly, the suspension based on tech’s rule will ruin an entire series/playoffs. Its coming. Do we even want the chance of that? A tech is given indiscriminately for minor things as small as TD laughing on the bench. I don’t want that turning an epic series of finals. Do you? And that’s why we should get rid of it before it inevitably happens.

4. Call Flops… NOW! Make Them Competitive

Call Flips Too NBA! I Bring You The First 65 Year Old League MVP!
Drawing a charge is coaxing/fooling a player into knocking you down. A skill I respect. You anticipate the spot, get there before the offensive player does and do all this craftily enough that his momentum knocks you off the position. Pure sports.

A flop is none of this. When the ref’s vision is partially obscured and its ‘tough to call’ you use your own force to fall down and/or pull his jersey into your mirage of a foul. Cue wildly flailing arms facial expressions worthy of an Oscar. No charge there. Its actually drawing a bad call from impartial refs in an attempt to undermine the game’s rules and their spirit. Some say flopping is an art. Most do not.

I actually agree with the former. Flopping is an art. It’s already part of the game. A properly executed flop will frustrate the hell out of your opponent. You get to snicker. He attacks/defends less aggressively because he has an extra foul and worries you will flop again. On the fly flopping is hard. Players who complain the most are never very good. Typical jealous critics.

The problem: its already part of the game but outside the rules. The worst flop outcome is an easy path to the basket with a no-call. I say let them flop. Reward skill and the flop masters. Its not easy to do afterall. Punish the unskilled. The result will increase the quality of flops to be entertaining.

You get called for a flop? Thats foul. The flopee gets 2 free throws. If they scored on the play they keep their points. If they didn’t score on the play they keep the ball. The refs get fooled a lot on flops but see plenty of them. I say call what you see. If a player is slick enough to get away with it that’s his skill. How does this not make the game better (and more attractive in European markets 🙂 ) right away? It cuts down bad flops and leaves them as a secret weapon for the craftiest players. More flops please!

3. Change The Salary Cap, Add Profit Sharing

PS: Apologies in advance but this takes time to explain. If you’ve made it this far I hope you bear with me. I think there’s some meat. If you don’t care about the cap feel free to skip.

The salary cap helps small market teams compete. NBA is not MLB and its a good thing. Unfortunately the side effects are horrible for basketball. If you sign one player to a max deal and he has a major injury you’re screwed. It takes a decade: 7 years to expire and 3 to rebuild. If you mistake a player’s potential or he can’t reach it you’re screwed again.

Why Should This Define A Franchise For A Decade?
The Magic had 7 straight losing seasons predominantly due to Grant Hill. His was useless amid his injuries and his contract untradeable. They had talent too. Dwight Howard was there for 3 years. T-Mac’s own injuries were traded to Houston in 03. It was their inability to pick up other players who could contribute due to the luxury tax line that Hill’s contract pushed them over.

Unless your owner does not care about money (Knicks/Mavs/Blazers) winning means GM’s making virtually 0 mistakes before players developing together on the court. Bargian players and signing vets to minimum contracts rather then building the best possible squad produces wins. When a players does develop the work put in and the commitment made by fans gets sold out. They can’t afford him anymore and his chemistry/continuity with him. Pro sports fans used to enjoy cheering ‘their’ players to reach their potential. Now signing a player is akin to filling your plate at an all you can eat buffet. By the time you’re sitting you’ve already “If I don’t eat this I can get more of that on the next trip.

Take Joe Johnson. After he became good PHX let him go just before his prime. That was followed by selling Rondo, giving away Kurt Thomas and ultimately having to choose between $Amare$ and Marion. They took Amare under the guise of ‘getting better defensively.’ Every move was made to avoid the tax.

San Antonio are the anti-Suns. Lots of championships. Not the best team they can be though. Crazy? They won 4? Nope! The Spurs win by surrounding one all-time great player with 2 good players and a bunch of scrubs playing for peanuts.

Mind you, the Spurs still got Manu for a KILLING. He puts up better clutch stats then Kobe on half the salary. They pay Parker under 10 to be an all star. Past that the Spurs are a group of okay but bargain basement ballers. Matt Bonner can hit 3’s for 2 mil. Bruce Bowen can D up for 4 mil. The Spurs have had an amazing 18 players on their roster this year making below the league average salary. Thats their team. Great, good, good, fill the gaps. They win. Why?

Meet Jaren Jackson: 5 PPG Career, paid $700k, Spurs Champion Assassin?!?!
Not great Spurs teams. The same Spurs team. Greece beat USA due to years of preparation. The Spurs beat more talented teams with consistency. Tim Duncan deserves all his credit, but his value has been over-inflated as the only visible great on this team that wins by buying low, keeping low and selling high. All credit to them. However…

I watch sports to see elite physicial competition… not the stock market moves which is where the real action in the NBA takes place. The NYSE is not in Madison Square Garden and the Knicks in offices are they? Fans tended to agree as the Spurs produced some of the weakest ratings in decades while ratings for things like the NBA draft has sky rocketed.

NFL profit sharing works so why not emulate it? The luxery tax boils down to a wealth redistribution mechanism. Just be blatant. Instead of a tax make a minimum profit threshold. Those above share with those below. The direct result: bringing in Jason Kidd to make the NBA product better in two seperate cities does not cost almost 50 million dollars simply because you signed Eric Dampier and got stuck with him. Punishing your successful franchises rather then helping ones in trouble is a stupid, moronic way to operate when good teams are what you’re selling. It does not work either as teams have still folded/moved in Seattle, Charlotte, Vancouver, New Jersy (soon) and Indiana (possibly).

Its killing the league. Anything that makes Donald Sterling one of the most successful owners in the books and the worst on the court is just wrong. Blatantly wrong. Wake up. Figure it out. Simply trying to lower the cap/salaries will NOT fix their problem. But I seriously doubt they view anything as a problem except decreased profits.

Okay, that all needed to be said. Finally…

2. Follow The D-Lead

D-League “Founder“. Isiah Thomas Corollary: If Isiah Is Wearing A Suit, Your Organization Will Fail.
Just short of NCAA style selection the D-League’s playoff seeding is nothing but fantastic. Let the higher seed pick. It allows truly elite teams to face off later in the playoffs. I’m sick of team A escaping team B because of a bracket. Not only that it adds new drama.

Who’s to say that a team will always pick weak? Say the Wizards were 5’th and the Cavs were first how great would it be for basketball if they said “No, we want to embarras our rivals out of the first round. We’re good enough that it doesn’t matter if they’re better then Detroit.” What a way to build swagger for a championship run.

It adds a whole other level of strategy. Orlandos dominant but have trouble matching up with Detroit. Should they pick Detroit first and take their biggest challenge when they’re fresh at the start of the playoffs? Giving teams control will let them create their own fate and create an new competitive facet as upsets will always be ‘chosen’ by the losers.

If Detroit is the easiest match up for the Cavs however a hard match up for another team they fear more, who’s to say they don’t take a better team in the first round and throw a monkey wrench into the real contender’s first round? It should continue right through the playoffs. With 4 teams left in each conference the highest seed lets you pick who #2 will face. An advantage that teams WILL play for rather then one extra game at home in a series or two. As it stands now every year end is highlighted by fans going to games to find out the all stars they came to see are sitting on the bench cheering on teh scrubs… except tickets are the same price. This rule alone will improve the dead period from all star to the start of the playoffs.

1. Add A Few Ref Challenges

There Has Got To Be A Better Way To Get A Few Fair Calls
One of the major problems for the entire history of the NBA has been bad calls deciding games. In the course of a game a ref has the ability to ‘make up’ bad calls by giving a 50/50 call back to the team who lost out on a previous mistake. Its not perfect but this nuance of reffing the games, when executed properly, keeps things under control, competition high and frustration low.

Its not enough. When players with 6 fouls are out one bad call will affect a team for an entire half or more. When there’s critical end game possessions or key players in early foul trouble a gimme later is meaningless. The margin of error in basketball at this level is so tight a single blown call will ruin the game’s integrity: a ref often has a larger impact the competitors themselves. Sometimes its a game, sometimes its a playoff series, and if the series is important a single call can destroy the whole point of the playoffs and thus an entire season.

A coach could ask his player “are you SURE?” If the player says absolutely they challenge the call. 10-30 seconds later the critical mistake is erased and everyone is happy. If he’s wrong the other team gets a couple of technical free throws and the home/away fans have something to cheer/jeer about. If the call prevents Duncan from getting his 3’rd or 4’th foul in the first half then he can stay on the floor and play untentative D as he would have if the right call was made.


Of Course, Rick Adleman Would Have Needed 30 Challanges To Make This Game Fair: It Took 3 YouTube Clips Just To Show The Fix, Umm… Bad Calls
The only result is stronger competition and enhanced fan experience. Nothing kills a city’s fanbase like bad calls. The Kings had the best franchise in the NBA and now are the worst team in the league: rumored to be in financial trouble. Does that happen if they didn’t get jobbed by the refs vs the Lakers? Probably not.

We’ve already seen video replay improving games this season. Corrected flagrant and 3 pointer calls at the end of quarters are forcing better officiating and less blown calls. No one is unhappy when the right call is made. Theres nothing to complain about, right?

So why only extended replay to such limited circumstances? Only in the last 2 minutes. Only to see if its a 2 or a 3. Only for flagrant. We’ve already seen that it makes the games better and reduces player frustration so why not do this on more important calls? Due to rules refs who are reviewing a play and notice a mistake are not even allowed to correct it if its not within the defined limits of what can be changed.

This option has been open to the NBA for decades. Its been 30 years at a bare minimum since the advent of video tape. So why is it ignored? Not wanting to review every call is normal: there are enough stoppages and you can bet coaches would. That’s why you give them a few challenges to be managed the same as timeouts, still use replay at the ref’s discretion and the game is instantly improved.

Take it to your coach’ disarms any complaining players. Gone is the pretentious bullshitting players and coaches constantly engage in when they argue calls they know they have no business getting. “Think I’m wrong? Put your money where you mouth is” is what every ref will be able to credibly say with a single glance. Failed challenges can only boost drama and make the refs look even more credible to help their image crisis of the past 50 years. It does not just help it, it dissolves it overnight. No blown games no bad image no conspiracy theories.

5 massive problems with the NBA that are simple to fix. The talent has recovered from it’s post Jordan slump. No excuse there anymore. One meeting and vote by the competition committee and next year’s NBA comes back stronger and better then it’s ever been.

The Next NBA Ball?
Will any of them be implemented? Not likely. While Stern is into surprise changes like introducing a new ball from a secret box that drops shooting percentages while cutting player’s hands he avoids rules that are 1. obvious 2. easy to implement and 3. dramatically improve the game.

We can only sit and hope that maybe, just maybe they’ll start to get it. Its so damn simple NBA suits. Simple! The issues fans complain about the most are the ones you should be addressing. Could you please just do it? Fix our league? We are your customers. Please???

Feedback Additions

I’m happy to add some feedback on some rules that readers have suggested. Check them out… any more suggestions send them in and I’ll add them. Cheers!

1. Flopping has to go. No need for it at all. Its annoying as hell.
2. If a defensive player stays in one spot and jumps straight up in the air and the offensive player jumps into him=No call.
3. Five referees each game so that there can be a 2 to 1 player to referee ratio.
4. Ticky tack fouls should not be called.
5. If there is a loose ball on the floor and you dive first, you should not be called for a foul.
6. If some one catches an air ball as the shot clock expires, dont make them inbound the ball, just play on.
7.Consistency, the referees have to be consistent at all times. If you are going to allow physical play, dont just do it for the first three quarters, do it for the whole game.
8. Make the game more physical. Stop playing a soft brand of basketball no one can identify with. To a certain extent, the more physical a game is, the better.
9. Revert the defensive rules to allow more physical defense to be played.
10. Traveling, this has to be remedied right now. Its terrible and needs to be called better.



3 Comments on "5 Ways To Fix The NBA For Next Season"

  1. Anonymous | May 14, 2009 at 3:47 am |

    I like the challenges and the flop rules. Makes everything so simple!

  2. Wanted to say that it's nice to know that someone else also mentioned this as had trouble finding the same info elsewhere. This was the first place that told me the answer. Thanks…

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