As for the shape of the lane, that would be mostly an aesthetic adjustment. At the point where it really matters, down by the basket, the international lane puts the players 22 inches farther from the basket than does the NBA lane.
Ultimately, the issue of internationalization comes down to this: How serious is the NBA about conforming to international standards?
Well, the league has been moving—ever so surely—toward exposing its game internationally, a concept embraced by commissioner David Stern. A standardized code of basketball rules will come—the only question is when.
Change Is in the Air
Given the NBA's record of success over the last decade, how many coaches and general managers think the game's rules should be left alone? Surprisingly few, according to the results of this week's SI poll: Only eight of 24 team representatives recommended preserving the status quo on rules. And changes to internationalize the game were only the beginning. Here are some other suggestions.
?Both Bristow and Jackson would like to see three free throws awarded to a player fouled in the act of attempting a three-point shot. The NCAA added this rule—also in the FIBA book—last season.
?Laker coach Mike Dunleavy advocates the addition of a line three feet from the basket to help officials better judge the troublesome block-or-charge question. A defensive player who positions himself in front of the line would draw the charge; if there is contact inside the line, it's a block. "This is too tough a call right now," says Dunleavy. "All you need is a line, and everyone can see it."
?Sonics coach George Karl would like to strike the rule that resets the 24-sccond clock on jump balls. "When you play good defense, you should be rewarded," says Karl. "If the shot clock is at five seconds, then it should stay that way. If the team that was on defense wins the tip, then you reset it."
?An Eastern Conference coach would like to see the elimination of the jump ball. This coach would prefer a coin flip at the outset and alternate possessions thereafter, after jump balls or at the beginning of periods.
?In the "ugh!" department, Maverick coach Richie Adubato suggests instant replay: "We should have it in the last minute of games, so decisions that are made, sometimes under pressure, can be reviewed and we can have a true winner." The subject surfaced briefly last season, but Stern quickly squelched it, and he would squelch it again.