The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been around since 1946 and though it presently maintains the same title, the game played under its jurisdiction has changed drastically through the years. A litany of rule changes has altered the game’s original premises, identity, and strategies. This new version of the sport is far different from how it was initially played. It lacks aggressiveness, as well as a spirit of competition that most athletes and fans truly appreciated and respected from its earlier edition. It’s possible that a few of these amendments were created with intent to improve the game, but the timing and effects of some changes lead to a more plausible outcome. In fact, it’s almost comical how the more noteworthy and memorable changes clearly work to the disadvantage of the leagues more athletic players, who more often than not, are black. Two of these changes specifically, force me to believe the NBA is trying to eliminate the many advantages of “athleticism” while allowing less athletic players to have stronger roles. Through these actions, it is apparent this association has an inherent plan to make white players (or any other race) more valuable commodities in its league, than the black players who’ve dominated it for so long.
The first and most notable refinement was the inclusion of the 3 point shot. It’s addition in 1979 definitely changed the identity of basketball. The three pointer allows long range shooters to be more valuable assets to a team than any other player, as their shots have more value. So basically, a game that had been played in a league for 33 years, changed a rule to make specific assets more valuable. The NBA also had 33 years of observations to determine and decide which player traits rendered more importance before they implemented this rule. As displayed everyday in NBA basketball games, they decided that the outside shooter needed to be more valuable than the inside scorer. In those 33 years used to make that observation, it was apparent that the white players were typically better outside shooters and the black players were better drivers and scored points closer to the hoop, because of their athleticism. So after years of careful observation, one attribute was made more valuable while the other stayed the same. Why weren’t both outside shooting and athleticism rewarded? To keep the game fair, it’s more reasonable to increase rewards for both attributes not just one, unless there was a purpose or plan in place. If a longer distance shot deserves more reward because of its difficulty shouldn’t scoring in the paint be equally adjusted. You tell me which one is a harder shot. Any middle school basketball player, afraid of contact, can hoist up a 3 pointer and luckily make it 2 or 3 times out of 10, but how many of those same middle schoolers can dunk. If you’re reading this article, just think logically, is there a better chance for you personally to dunk a ball or score in the paint of an NBA game versus 7-foot tall players or shooting a three pointer versus the shorter players with more space. Unless Shaq is reading this, I expect you understand and accept my point.
The timing of the 3 point rule’s addition provides even more evidence supporting my claims. The shot had been apart of other leagues including the ABL and the ABA more than 18 years prior to the NBA including it. Both leagues had permanently adopted the 3 point shot in their constitutions, so it wasn’t a new idea. But in 1979, after Larry Bird had just entered the league and Magic Johnson was en route, the NBA decided to include the 3 point shot to reward outside shooters. These two were the most prolific collegiate players to ever enter the NBA draft. Magic was black and Bird was white. Bird’s best attribute was his amazing outside shooting, so mysteriously the NBA opted to include the 3 point shot that year. In my eyes, the NBA wanted to make Larry Bird more valuable in its league than Magic or any of its other players, who weren’t typically outside shooters. And so they did, Bird’s 3-point prowess garnered enough success to help him and the 3-point shot alter the game as we know it.
The addition of the zone defense is the other adjustment the NBA included that supports my belief. The zone defense was allowed for the first time in the NBA during the 2001-2002 seasons. The zone’s objective has always been to assist both teams and players who lack the athletic ability to guard faster and stronger opponents. Again, this was not an idea that was newly introduced. It had been apart of the NCAA and lower levels of the sport for years. But in 1999, the NBA’s commissioner began to want a more global game. He made many public statements promoting a mass inclusion of foreign players and supporters. The foreign players were previously not included in NBA basketball because they weren’t good enough to create their own shot, defend, or rebound with the NBA’s overly athletic players. Now suddenly there has been an influx of them, not as lower tier specialty players either, but instant stars. So the addition of the zone was again a slight to more athletic players, which conversely upgraded the less athletic players.
So comparatively speaking, imagine racing against your best friend for 10 years. You guys have created a point system that rewards distance running and sprinting accordingly. You’re a better sprinter and he/she is a better long distance runner. Would it seem weird if your friend implemented a rule change so long distance could have more value? Wouldn’t you suggest that sprinting gain an equal reward as its counterpart. Again this just seems logical. The game had already been created with rules. So rule changes should enhance the overall game not just specific traits. The game of Chess wouldn’t change its rules to help some players to appear more valuable . It’s rules are standard and set. If a great chess player preferred to use pawns more, the game of chess wouldn’t adjust its rules to make pawns have the maneuverability of Knights too. That player will have to find ways to win with his pawn strategy or he just will lose, and consequently won’t be great.
So this new watered down version of basketball, which is constantly aired on our television airways, may be entertaining to many viewers but it hasn’t fooled me one bit. I know a scam when I see one. The media, NBA officials, and some die-hard fans can promote, sell, and accept these changes. They can suggest the reinforcements were made to enhance the game, but I’m not going for the “okey doke”. If the NBA truly wanted to improve this game they’d create a better definition of a foul. Not one player, coach, or fan can clearly state its definition but its the most important rule in the game. Even the game’s officials get lost in translation of that rule. So if not for enhancement what other reasons are left? This country hasn’t had a history of creating rules so that all men were created equal and given a fair and equal opportunity to flourish or excel. So why would I believe one of its most popular sports leagues would, I don’t. But I’d prefer the NBA be a little more direct. Wouldn’t it have been clearer and easier for the league to just say every black man’s shot is worth 1 point and every shot from anyone else is worth 3 points, that way the game could mimic life in this country.