SQ #12--Viva la Difference!

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.