NBA, Change the Jump Ball Rule

I’m not talking about the opening tip – just in-game jumps.

A few months ago I argued shots beyond half court should not count as field goals attempted as a way to straighten curbed statistics. My only other qualm with NBA rules is the situation asked of players in mid-game jump ball situations.

As current rules dictate, if Player A gets tied up with Player B (both have “possession”), the whistle is blown and both players tip off at the circle nearest where the whistle blew. The ref throws the ball up and both try to tip it to their team.

But if I’m 5’10 and induce a jump ball with 7’1″ Dikembe Mutombo, I get to try and out jump this guy:

Might as well not have even played defense. Mutombo wouldn’t have to even jump against most players under ~6’3″~.

Us vertically challenged people want fair rights! This is an outrage!

If you’re not going to use college basketball’s possession arrow, let teams choose their tallest player on the court for mid-game jump balls. If I get tied up with Shaquille O’Neal, let my buddy Yao Ming try to win the tip – this way most accurately rewards a good defensive play.

One more issue: When a jump ball is called with less than five seconds on the shot clock, the clock resets to five seconds. If I’m playing great defense and induce a jump ball with one second on the shot clock – when if I didn’t play defense it would most likely result in a bad shot or shot clock violation – the offensive team has now a 50:50 chance (on the jump ball) to get off a clean shot, as I feel five seconds is enough time to do so.

This rare, but possible situation puts defenders in the awkward position of “Should I play my best defense right now,” a thought that, morally, should never to enter a player’s head in any sport.

Instead of resetting the shot clock to five seconds, add two seconds to whatever the shot clock read at the whistle. Give the ball those seconds to find its possesser and go from there.

In summary:
Let teams choose which player jumps for possession
Abandon the five-second rule and replace it with a +2 second rule

A month ago I voiced my displeasure on how many players refuse to throw up prayers in the final seconds of quarters as a way to strengthen statistics. Commissioner Stern, don’t be so stern. Adjust for changes that positively affect the game. Tweak the jump ball rule and don’t count shots beyond half court as field goals attempted.

Half-Court Shots Should Not Count as Field Goals

David Stern, NBA Commissioner

During yesterday’s Knicks game, Jason Kidd threw up a wild shot from 3/4 court to end the third quarter. The shot landed nowhere near the hoop, but it was a nice effort.

Kidd is shooting a career-high 45% from three-point range this year, but the aforementioned miss counts against that percentage despite the 2% chance the shot connects.

In today’s stat-driven age, a few percentage points could be the difference between thousands of contract dollars. Logically, a vast majority of players hold the ball in the final seconds of a quarter despite zero risk to your team by chucking one up from 70 feet.

If players are collectively more worried about hurting their stats than helping their team (in this instance), then Commissioner David Stern and the NBA should cater to it.

Treat shots behind half court like shots after a foul – if it goes in, it counts as a three pointer made. If not, then it doesn’t count as a shot attempt.

“Dude Perfect” hits a shot from the top of Texas A&M’s football field. VIDEO

The most exciting part of a basketball game is the buzzer beater. The cherry on top is a buzzer beater from far, far away. (Here’s a compilation of them). By giving players the freedom to hoist one up without personal risk, you’ll see more end of the quarter excitement. In turn, more fans will tune in to end a quarter and potentially add more advertising demand on the commercials following.

From the time I was little and until today, I’ll watch any basketball game if there’s under a minute to go in the quarter/half, just in case I see a fun buzzer beater connect.

Without proof, I know I am not the only basketball fan who does this.

In its current state, basketball is not in its truest form. Imagine this scenario: the Houston Rockets are up by 15 to the Cleveland Cavaliers with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. As the clock winds down, the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving drives to the basket and misses a layup. With three seconds left, James Harden grabs the rebound and holds it – Rockets up 15 to end the third quarter. However, the Cavaliers make a great fourth-quarter push and eventually win by a point.

Now this: without worrying a half-court shot could potentially hurt him down the road financially, Harden takes one dribble, spins around a defender, and throws up a wild, off-balance 60-footer. Swish.

Down by 18, the Cavaliers walk back to the bench with new-found dejection, possibly with the added emotion “maybe this just isn’t our night.” Maybe Harden’s three is the difference in the game. Maybe it’s not, but maybe it is. Maybe the Rockets make the playoffs by a game.

In this instance, basketball punishes the team player.

Take Player A, a great shooter in his contract year. He won’t risk taking a wild shot at the buzzer because every miss means less money in his next deal. It’s not that he’s a bad person, just a human being. He doesn’t take any shots behind half court and ends the year 80-200 (40%) from three-point range.

Now Player B, an equally great shooter, but a team player. He doesn’t care about stats. If he has the ball in the backcourt with a second to go in the first quarter, he’ll throw up a prayer because maybe it’ll help his team. He took five half-court shots this year and missed all to make him 80-205 (39%) from three-point range.

At season’s end, the Clippers need a three-point specialist. According to stats, Player A is the better choice, even though their only difference was Player B’s stronger will to help his team.

Mr. Stern, don’t count shots beyond half-court as field goals. Add excitement to the game. Bring back its purity. If I’m tuning in to watch the end of the quarter, so are others, and that means more money in your pocket.

Because who doesn’t want to see more of this:

NFL Players: Goodell, there’s only one way to get us on board with your rule changes

This week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed his interest in taking kickoffs out of football.

By doing so, he extracts the most dangerous play in the game, where full-speed collisions render concussions expected and commonplace.

While there are those for and against it, the players overwhelmingly dislike the idea, with the mindset, “Don’t change the game we love.”

This discussion comes both during a sensitive time when parents are questioning football’s safety and a year after Goodell moved the kickoff up five yards to induce more touchbacks.

But football is a violent sport played by violent people who don’t stress the long term risks the sport proposes. From a players’ perspective, Goodell is easy to gang up on because he never played the game.

“He doesn’t know how we feel.”

That’s where you hit your roadblock.

In order to get on board with a serious change to the game, the players need anecdotal evidence from former, prominent players of the tangible dangers of football.

Players like Jim McMahon, who’s 15 years in the league have left him with a fraction of the brain function he once possessed.

He talked about his short term memory in this interview with ESPN.

“That’s when the anger comes out. You dumbass, what are you doing, why (did you come) in this room?” he’ll ask himself. McMahon, along with “hundreds” of other players, are suing the NFL for concealing information about the long-term effect of concussions.

While I’m sure McMahon would have suggestions for his 22-year old self, the “McMahon’s” of today just want to play football, giving little attention to long-term risk.

But if in 20 years we see a 47-year old Adrian Peterson hunched back, limping, and talking about his day-to-day dependence, or Jerry Rice pleading with players to run out of bounds more often, you will see a change in mindset.

You need to relate to the players.

Unfortunately, the commissioner has very limited credibility because he lacked a playing career, but if the fathers of the NFL come out and declare the objective dangers of the game, you may see a drastic change to football.

I suggest a mad dash to the ball to start the game. We can learn a lot from the XFL…

Jason Kidd is the most important player on the Knicks

He’s going to play 20 minutes a game. He’s slow. He’s old.

Entering his 19th season, Jason Kidd has never averaged more than 20 points per game. The Knicks backup point guard has averaged 10 assists per game in only three seasons, and never more than 11.

His lifetime three-point percentage sits under 35%.

And he’s the most important player on the New York Knicks.

Lost in translation three paragraphs up is Kidd’s longevity – 19 seasons in any job conveys you’re doing something right. The NBA’s #3 all-time leader in triple doubles, Kidd’s wisdom, pass first mentality, leadership, and desire to teach will turn the mediocre Knicks into eastern conference champion contenders.

Before Jeremy Lin signed with the Rockets but after Kidd joined the Knicks, Kidd said this:

“To have a chance to mentor a very good player in Jeremy — be able to share my secrets or what I’ve learned in my 18 years — for him hopefully to take it to another level, it’s something I look forward to doing,” Kidd said. Here’s the article.

I can be the best professor east of the Mississippi, but if I don’t want to teach students, then I’m just as valuable as your sixth grade substitute English teacher.

Even though Lin is no longer in New York, Kidd showed his itch to teach. In his twilight years, Kidd wants to leave his mark on the game.

What better team to fix?

Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, while both seething with talent, don’t work well together. Based on conjecture and watching Knicks basketball, their games do not mesh, they lack chemistry, and both want to be “the guy.”

A veteran like Kidd won’t hesitate to tell Stoudemire or Anthony what they’re doing wrong, and they’ll listen due to Kidd’s résumé.

Last year, Baron Davis and Jared Jeffries were the only Knicks with more NBA experience than Melo. Jeffries is a careeer-long defensive specialist and Davis failed to convince me he played for more than the money.

On the court, who was there to tell Melo to shut up?

On paper, last year’s Knicks translated into a team better than a 36-30 record and first-round exit. I felt their #1 problem was a lack of fluidity and chemistry.

But this year, and even as you read this as the Knicks prepare for Philly tonight, Kidd is revamping mindsets and relationships. As point guard and player/coach, Anthony and Stoudemire will have no choice but to play Kidd’s game, one that is 19 years wise and emphasizes passing and locating the open man.

Starting with Allen Iverson around 1999, we fell in love with the score-first point guard. The theory is now in its 14th (or so) straight year of failure. Here are the point guards (including career ppg) that have won championships the last decade:

Dwyane Wade ……………………………………………………………………………….. 25.2 ppg Jason Kidd …………………………………………………………………………………….. 13.0 ppg
Derek Fisher …………………………………………………………………………………… 8.6 ppg
Rajon Rondo ………………………………………………………………………………….. 10.8 ppg
Tony Parker ………………………………………………………………………………….. 16.8 ppg Chauncey Billups ………………………………………………………………….,……….. 15.5 ppg

Here are ones that haven’t:
Carmelo Anthony (They experimented with him at PG last year) ……….. 24.7 ppg
Allen Iverson…………………………………………………………………………………. 26.7 ppg
Chris Paul …………………………………………………………………………………….. 18.8 ppg
Stephon Marbury ………………………………………………………………………….. 19.3 ppg
Tracy McGrady ……………………………………………………………………………… 19.6 ppg

With Kidd’s decision making not diluted with the hotts for 40-point games, he understands a winning team requires an unselfish, pass-first mentality.

That’s why the Knicks won with Jeremy Lin. Ironically, Lin was putting up 25-30 point games, but his passing glued the Knicks into a cohesive unit, not five stations at one carnival.

With veterans Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace here to side with “Jason Kidd basketball,” maybe Anthony and Stoudemire will get the hefty serving of humble pie they desperately needed last year.

Assuming half the team doesn’t retire to Florida before the end of the season, the Knicks’ leadership, talent, deep bench, and confidence will engineer the most wins of any Knicks team since their 57-25 season in 1996-97.

Kobe Bryant’s Class Gives Kevin Durant Scoring Title

In 1941, Boston Red Sox’ Ted Williams went into the final day of baseball’s regular season batting exactly .400. While he could’ve sat out – Boston was 17 games back of the first place Yankees, Williams understood batting .400 wouldn’t mean as much if put himself before the team. Williams went a combined 6-8 in the doubleheader (Game 1 Game 2) – on his way to the .406 batting average we haven’t seen since.

According to this story on ESPN.com, Bryant will sit out in the final game of the season against the Sacramento Kings tonight, forfeiting a chance to take home his third career scoring title. He needed 38 points to beat out Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who played their final game of the regular season last night.

Kobe had the chance to smack ESPN in the face tonight. By scoring 38, he makes an argument he’s the best player in the NBA, not the seventh best according to a preseason rank on NBA on ESPN. Remember, this comes in the same season he had to adjust to a coach not named Phil Jackson and a Scottie Pippen not named Derek Fisher. He has not let his basketball stardom fog his vision of another NBA title – basketball’s ultimate measuring stick.

In today’s story with ESPNLosAngeles, Kobe said, “It’s not a challenge for me to score 38 points, you know? … We know I can go out and score 38 points. The most important thing is sending the right message to the group which is putting a championship above all else. That means rest. That means letting other guys play. That means us getting ready for Sunday (for the playoff opener).”

Yeah…Kobe is exactly right. We do know he can go out and score 38 at whim. He’s the only player in the league that can say that without a backlash of pseudo-news and debate on Twitter. Let me know in the comments if you disagree. LeBron could say it and be truthful, but we love hating LeBron too much to let a comment like that slide.

While Kobe could use father time to school the younger Durant, he didn’t. He showed class. He conveyed he’s not bigger than the game. It was refreshing, and I think it reminded basketball fans how special Kobe is.

When we look back on Kobe’s career, there will be an unofficial asterisk next to Kobe’s amount of scoring titles. In a sports era where asterisks are associated with negativity, this asterisk will reiterate how special Kobe was.

“Yes son, Kobe only won three scoring titles way back when, but he could have had a fourth if he decided to play in the final game of that 2012 season.”

Remember when Jose Reyes voluntarily sat out of last season’s finale to ensure his batting title? Yes he won, but sports fans partner his batting title with, “Yes, but he sat out the last day of the season to ensure he would win,” communicating he put himself before the team.

Rest up Kobe. A third scoring title doesn’t look as impressive as a sixth championship.