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Summer Quandaries #12
Aug 12—49 Days to camp

Viva la Difference!

With the Team USA approaching its final cut, Rondo’s prominence in promos, and the World Championships looming, perhaps it is appropriate to consider the differences between the game of basketball played in the rest of the world vs. the NBA. This October International basketball will adopt two changes to their rules that will make the game even more similar to the NBA. There is an excellent summary of most differences (including NCAA and WNBA) at http://www.members.shaw.ca/jazzace/ace/hoop/rulediff.html

The biggies are the 3-point arc length (FIBA will become 22’1.75” in Oct.), the trapezoidal key (which will change to the NBA 16’ rectangle in Oct.), FIBA plays four 10-minute quarters, FIBA has no jump balls after the opening tip-off, and FIBA allows basket interference after the ball touches the rim. Also FIBA has only coach-called 2 timeouts in 1st half and 3 in the 2nd vs. the seemingly infinite number of seemingly infinitely long commercial breaks in the NBA which can be called by players, coaches, or probably Jack Nicholson. Finally FIBA disqualifies players after 5 fouls vs. the NBA 6.

However, I think the biggest difference is in the style of play with international ball emphasizing teamwork instead of relying on individual athleticism.
Other than the use of passing and ball movement over isolation plays, the most noticeable difference is the integration of the 3-point shot into the international game which is no doubt influenced by the fact that it is much closer and lacks the flattened sweet spot in the corner. For the basketball purist watching FIBA basketball, the drop in athleticism is more than made up for in the unselfish teamwork that values opportunities gleaned from crisp passing, movement away from the ball, and screens. Think of the Celtics of 2007-08.

I feel the biggest factor influencing the difference in the international vs. NBA games is wrapped up in the ESPN highlights and the And-1 tournaments. I personally rank these right up there with end zone dances; chest thumping; head knocking; posses; bling-bling; lack of respect for Wooden, Dean Smith, and Vince Lombardi; singers that can’t sing; actors that can’t act; poetry that doesn’t rhyme; presidents that can’t president (or act, or make complete sentences); proud ignorance; drunken philosophy; false modesty; and the imminent downfall of civilization—but that’s another rant.

Lee Lauderdale 8/12/2010 05:04:00 PM Edit
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2 Responses so far.

  1. Jenda says:

    I have something to confess: I freaking hate the 'no jump ball' FIBA rule. I have experienced it on the court. It's taking away those little in-game breathers, it often decides the game by putting the ball to one team and of course, it takes away from the game of basketball.
    To the team play vs. individual athleticism thing: it's really about the court proportions, with the 3-point arc significantly smaller, you don't need a 350 lbs. giant to clog the key.

  2. Three Toe says:

    "The effect of modern American culture on Basketball in the United States" would be a great article to read, if it existed.

    I don't think the showboating and egomania are influencing the style of play in the NBA, but rather are a result of it as well as cultural factors outside of the game. I believe that the rules and the athleticism in the NBA are the biggest factors influencing the difference (though i have seen very little international basketball, so i cant really talk much about differences).

    you lament things like the end zone dance and false modesty, but when an entire society worships an individual for playing a game, then chastises him for celebrating a good play, who REALLY is to blame for his ego, him or us? We feed him glory and tell him he is our savior but then we slap his wrist if he ever actually believes us.

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