Jul 27th, 2007 by Answerman
II. The Rules.
FIBA rules are different than NBA rules. Its the trapezoidal lane, goaltending rules, foul rules, traveling rules, 3 point distance (and for the purposes of this entry we’ll pretend that FIBA refs don’t have it out for NBA players).
The adjustment to these rules, though minor and intellectually simple, have an adverse effect on the NBA and its players. For example, Tyson Chandler is a great NBA rebounder. He was probably able to get rim by the time he was 12. Ever since that time, he has been timing his jumps so as NOT to take the ball of the rim, because that is illegal at all levels of American play. It has become so part of his muscle memory, that it is now an instinct. You CANNOT give him a rule book that says he CAN take balls off the rim and expect him to easily adjust. Michael Redd is a tremendous shooter. He practices shooting from specific distances (NBA 3 point range) as part of the offense. Giving him another distance requires him to readjust arm angles and stroke and practice a different shot.
To demonstrate the difficulty in making these intellectually simple, but physically complex adjustments, try walking left foot-left foot-right foot/left-left-right/left-left-right. You can do it, seems easy enough, you are just bad at it. Same can be said for the “minor” adjustments NBA players have to make in FIBA.
The impact of this adjustment to the NBA is 2-fold.
1. To adjust to the rule changes, U.S. team officials have now made FIBA participation into a multi-year commitment, requiring more practices, scrimmages and, of course, exhibitions (no money there, right) to get used to these rules. Since its a multi-year commitment, the guys who had no break last summer, will have no break this summer and will have no break next summer. To see a discussion of NBA players playing more, see Part I.
2. It confuses the players. Lets say I’m the Detroit Pistons. I have an offensive approach that I want my team to master and I want it mastered using NBA rules. Now, you are taking two of my starters, including my point guard, getting them used to different rules and forcing them to execute different plays to compensate. How is that good for Pistons fans who want to see clean execution by their team? NBA fans who want to se ethe NBA game played well?
The NBA does not want Billups working on breaking a zone during the summer, since we all know he won’t face a real zones in the NBA. The NBA wants him focused on beating the defenses the NBA presents, focused on Detroit Basketball. The NBA does not want his head filled with Mike K’s college and Mike D’An’s international approaches.
The NBA talks about team work and continuity, yet they send players to work in other systems under different rules, serving to break any semblance of team work and continuity.
To stretch my analogy, lets say you spent all summer training for a race where you are required to run left-left-right against guys who have walked like that their entire lives? You do your level best to be the best left-left-right runner in the business…and eventually you develop strategies and muscle memory to do it at an elite level. Will you be ready to run left-right-left-right effectively in the fall? As effectively as you could before all the intelligent left-left-right training?
I’d rather my players spend their summers like the “Super-Size Me” guy than participating in FIBA. The weight will come off during the season, the damage to their psyche from learning another system, being bad at it, and then readjusting to the NBA, is far more difficult to overcome.
Part III coming soon.