It is rules like the three-point field goal—along with the 24-second clock—that are turning pro basketball into a one-on-one school-yard game. One of your pictures illustrates this perfectly. Brian Taylor is taking a three-point shot while his teammate stands wide open beneath the basket. No wonder interest is down.
Loose-ball fouls, three-to-make-two, the 24-second clock, even the nefarious "continuation two-shot foul" seem traditional when compared with the three-point field goal. All the NBA lacks in its quest to become a bona fide three-ring circus is a dancing bear.
As I see it, Chris Ford's three-point-field goal percentage of .471 is, in an important sense, seriously misleading. Since three-point shots are worth 50% more than a normal field goal, Ford's "real" shooting percentage is an astronomical .706. He shot 40 for 85 to produce 120 points. A two-point shooter would have to go 60 for 85 to achieve the same results. The same is true of the other three-point shooters. Larry Bird's apparently anemic .364 shooting percentage becomes a respectable .545 when viewed in these terms. Thus, when properly employed, the three-point shot is actually a high-percentage play despite its opposite appearance.
New Haven, Conn.
The three-point-shot rule makes pro basketball much more exciting. Now you can say the whole game is worth watching, not just the final two minutes.
In reference to your article on the Flyers, I somehow got the impression that the entire team would soon be canonized (And the Broad Street Streakers Skate On, Jan. 14).
Flyer Coach Pat Quinn's team has changed its game a little bit, but please let's wait before stating that the leopard has changed its spots.
Your SCORECARD item (Jan. 7) on NHL brawling and the recommended ultimate solution is very interesting. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association adopted the progressive penalty rule several years ago and finds it a highly successful deterrent to excessive fighting in the league.
Of course, there is always the player who is trying to impress the scouts and the fans with his toughness, and nothing will stop him from fighting. But the really good college players want to play hockey, not fight.
The pros could certainly benefit from a strict penalty assessment for fighting—the sooner the better—before someone is seriously hurt.
MARGARET M. SMITH