Playoffs illustrate need for some tweaks to NBA rules
Posted: Tuesday May 24, 2005 2:21PM; Updated: Tuesday May 24, 2005 4:41PM
The mind races with how many 4s Phoenix's Quentin Richardson would shoot after firing almost eight treys a game in '04-05.
John W. McDonough/SI
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Tonight, when the Spurs go against the Suns in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, we can be assured of a few things: The Suns will continue to push the ball relentlessly while Bruce Bowen will try to impede it; at least one important possession will be determined by a jump ball; and Manu Ginobili will make lots of amusing faces while Tim Duncan will make but one (call it the Timmy D Grimace). What we won't see, however, are any 40-second timeouts, 4-point shots or game-deciding shootouts. Though, if I were in charge of the NBA, we might.
Egged on by esteemed football scribe and depressed Lakers fan Josh Elliott, who proposed his own NFL rule-change tweaks a few weeks back, I took a look at the NBA's guidelines and came up with a few changes -- some more fanciful than others -- designed to help the game. The focus is on reducing the impact of the referees -- who have too much control already -- keeping the game moving and providing teams with more strategic options. No doubt, many of you will have a different opinion and no doubt many of you will argue it vociferously -- just drop it in the mailbag and I'll post the best ones next week.
Here's how I'd change the game:
1. No more jump balls (other than the opening one).
A relic of the game's peach basket days, and one that adds neither strategy nor excitement to the game -- "Wait, they're jockeying for position around the ref! Now the ref is re-throwing the ball! The college game has it right -- go with a possession arrow. Otherwise, what's the utility of Tony Parker tying up Amare Stoudemire when it's just going to go to the Suns either way?
2. All timeouts will be limited to either 20 or 40 seconds.
Coaches will complain that they need more time, but this is patently untrue. Watch what happens during an NBA timeout closely. You'll see coaches spending the first third of the time standing with their assistants away from the players like four men at a cocktail party. Then you'll watch the head coach squat in front of the bench and talk loudly for 15 or 20 seconds before taking a seat and staring off into space, perhaps adding a frown much like Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, until the buzzer sounds. Save fans the interminable waits (especially late in games, when it kills momentum and forces another commercial break) and keep the action moving.