For its part, the NBA remains unmoved by any three-point ideas. The rulesmakers have never even considered it. Eddie Gottlieb, an NBA rules committeeman who has spearheaded many of the innovations that have, literally, saved the pro game, says. "What is it but an admission that you are dealing with inferior players who can't do anything but throw up long shots? Is length the only criterion for excellence? I would say that out of every 40 or 50 shots, at least 20 are more difficult than a simple long shot. If it is worth three points to make a standard long jump shot, well then, a twisting, driving hook, going full speed to take the pass, cutting between two big defenders—why, that must be worth six points. You encourage mediocrity when you give extra credit to this sort of thing."
In at least one respect the shot is an exciting treat—when it comes in the very last seconds and the team with the ball is three points down. Mel Nowell of New Jersey tied such a game last week against New Orleans with a 30-footer with three seconds to go. And then New Jersey won in the overtime.
The longest three-pointer so far was made on the previous night when Jerry Harkness of Indiana banked in a 92-foot throw at the buzzer to beat Dallas 119-118. This won Harkness a Sharpshooter's Medal from the Indianapolis Marine Reserves and broke what was probably the pro distance record, set by Bill Sharman in the 1957 NBA All-Star Game in Boston. Sharman, standing at the opponent's free-throw line, hurled a long lead pass to Bob Cousy, streaking downcourt. It was a little long, and it swished through the nets 80 feet away. The arena was struck dumb at the sight. In the lull Sharman turned casually to Dick Garmaker, who was guarding him. "Don't play much defense, do you, Dick?" he said. They don't make three-point baskets like they used to in the old days.