Wednesday, June 15, 2011

13 comments Rick Telander Thinks the NBA's Rim Height Should Change

Rick Telander thinks the NBA should raise the rims to a level where players have fewer opportunities and ability to dunk the basketball. Because Rick Telander hates Jay Mariotti and wasn't shy about saying it, he should have a lifetime pass on this blog. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a lifetime pass on this blog, so that poses a bit of a problem. Rick feels it is time to change this "arbitrary" rim height the NBA uses. I feel he should probably watch high school basketball if he doesn't like dunking.

It’s time to raise the basketball rims.

I can say a lot of things about Rick Telander, but he does not bury the lead. He gets right to the point of what he is writing about.

Ten feet, 6 inches would be a reasonable height,

Reasonable being defined as "completely arbitrary." Remember this, because my "arbitrary" comment will make more sense here in a minute. I think ten feet is a reasonable height simply because it has worked for many decades now and there isn't a compelling reason to change it. If the point is to prevent players from dunking the basketball, I don't know if six inches will do the trick or not.

a half foot above the current rim, although I’d let you make an argument for 10-4 or even 10-8.

So four inches would make a difference in the height of the rim in order to fix the fictional problem of too many players being able to dunk the basketball? Or is it 8 inches that will fix this fictional problem? Maybe when criticizing the current rim height for being "arbitrary" and saying it should be raised it is better to not think of arbitrary rim heights as part of the solution to the problem.


Or as I said when I read this column, "Why?????????????????"

Because the current 10-foot rim, which has been at that arbitrary height ever since James Naismith nailed a peach basket

Here are some other arbitrary measurements used in sports that don't need to be changed and have worked out well. Yet they could be changed, but not necessarily for the better:

-100 yards on an NFL football field. We don't use the metric system in America. Plus, there are too many touchdowns in football. Let's move the field to 350 feet.

-60 feet 6 inches to the pitcher's mound. Pitchers and hitters are stronger now. Surely this creates a problem of some sort.

-The distance of the fences in a team's home park. They are all different! How is that fair?

-How big the baseball/football/soccer ball/basketball is. We have college baseball players playing with aluminum bats and MLB players playing with wooden bats. It's just straight madness.

-Nearly every measurement in every sport (3pt line, free throw line, 10 yards to a first down) is from an arbitrary distance of some sort.

My point is that most rules or measurements outlining the field of play are arbitrary in sports. That doesn't mean they can't change or shouldn't change, but calling the ten foot basket "arbitrary" is a bit deceiving.

Well, the rim hasn’t moved, but the forest around it has.

"These here players are being groomed and bred to learn to dunk that there basketball. It ain't right and it ruins the game!"

And that forest has become more specialized than ever.

He's talking to you China. Stop producing test-tube babies for the sole purpose of dunking on American-born players in the NBA.

That is, the rim’s accessibility to all the freakishly tall men and jumping phenoms has made it into something not even close to what Naismith had in mind.

So James Naismith had in mind the idea of short, white guys with little athletic ability shooting the ball? He should be proud of the WNBA. Maybe this should be incorporated into the WNBA's motto.

"The WNBA: Basketball as Dr. James Naismith intended"

It is not a bad thing that freakish athletes have turned the game of basketball into a more athletic sporting event. The fact this happened is pretty much the reason why the NBA took off in popularity a few decades ago. It became more exciting to watch. So Naismith's vision probably sucked if he didn't like or want this type of thing to happen.

We don’t need to honor that inventive man by adhering to all his wishes — ol’ Doc didn’t think about backboards, goaltending or even dribbling at the start —

So we should adhere to what James Naismith wanted, unless we don't want to do that, in which case it is fine to switch up the game for the benefit of the game? Great, more exciting basketball is basketball where there is dunking, so the rims should stay at a level where NBA athletes can dunk, but it isn't overly simple. This level is achieved by keeping the rim at ten feet. I'm glad we solved this.

The rim was supposed to be something that was essentially out of reach, at which players shot the ball, not jammed it through from above.

Things change. There wasn't supposed to be dribbling, backboards, or even an entire league dedicated to the sport that would make millions upon millions of dollars in revenue. Simply because Dr. James Naismith didn't envision it, doesn't mean it shouldn't be a part of modern basketball. Rick Telander admitted this as much the sentence above this one when talking about the changes made to Naismith's game.

Indeed, a 10-6 rim would no more stop jams than lowering the pitcher’s mound in baseball stopped no-hitters.

So the rim height should be lowered because it wouldn't make a difference? So why not just leave the rim height where it currently is at. Dunks are good for the NBA.

It would just make such displays a little more, shall we say . . . special?

A dunk is still special. The fact more players can dunk now than could in the early 1900's doesn't mean the setup in the early 1900's was a better setup. Dunks never get old.

For evidence of game evolution, check out the action photo of Kevin Durant in last week’s Sports Illustrated. The Thunder forward’s head is about at rim level, he is perhaps three feet from the basket, he is being fouled by an opponent who is way below him, his right arm is fully extended, and his right hand is about to cram the ball through the rim from at least 18 inches above it.

I guess this one picture is the only evidence needed to lower the rim height. Kevin Durant is 6 foot 11 inches (I am convinced he is an inch taller than that), his wingspan is very long as well, and he is one of the best basketball players in the NBA. So he is a guy who wouldn't have a hard time dunking because he is so tall and has such a large wingspan. There aren't a hell of a lot of guys with his build currently playing in the NBA.

This evidence would be much more compelling to me if Jason Terry or a small forward who wasn't as tall was high above the rim and easily dunking the ball. As it stands, I would expect a young, long, tall player like Durant to do this. Can Russell Westbrook or James Harden do the same thing? Probably not, so it isn't like Durant is just one of many on his team who can sky above the rim.

There are now street-ball games where the guys have raised the rims to as high as 12 feet, just to make dunking more interesting.

As I always say, if it is happening in street-ball then the NBA should immediately copy it.

The street-ball guys have raised the rims to 12 feet to make dunking more interesting, not necessarily to improve the actual game of basketball being played, which when I last checked was the sport being played. So while street-ball games have moved the rims up, I don't know if this would translate to a better game when it comes to organized basketball. There is a lot shit that goes on in street-ball which wouldn't translate well to the NBA, like the fact players don't get called for a "carry" or "palm" of the ball, sometimes they just hold the ball in their hand and run to the basket in street-ball.

But even if every player on the floor during NBA games can dunk with ease, which is often the case

This is not true. Most players on the floor can probably dunk a basketball, but that doesn't mean it is does with ease. Most NBA players are tall and athletic, so it shouldn't be shocking many of them can dunk a basketball, but that doesn't mean they do it with ease.

(except when J.J. Barrea is out there), there is still such clutter above the rim that close-in shots become almost impossible.

I have never experienced this problem. Perhaps this is a column written by a bitter Chicago sportswriter that the high-flying Heat beat the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals? I'm just guessing really.

There was a failed movement back in the late 1960s to raise the rim, largely because basketball seers could not fathom the future of the game with giants such as Lew Alcindor coming along.

And yet, the giants that came along while the NBA rim was at a height of ten feet didn't do anything to negatively impact the NBA game and the sport actually became more popular as the players got taller and more athletic. So the fear the basketball seers had in the giants ruining the game never did come to fruition. If anything, these players made the game of basketball more exciting and fun to follow.

‘‘In the early 1930s,’’ the legendary Kansas coach Phog Allen said years ago, ‘‘I foresaw that the influx into the game of more and more big men would ultimately make a travesty of basketball.

So it's been nearly 80 years and this hasn't come true yet. But it sure sounds really super-duper scary doesn't it?

Actually, I had a 7-footer in 1927. I was convinced that eventually 12-foot baskets would be necessary.’’

Again, it has been nearly 80 years and this hasn't quite come true yet. I'm not saying it wouldn't come true at some point, but the current game of basketball doesn't suffer from too many dunks in my opinion.

But in periodic exhibition games played with 12-foot baskets, smaller men have shot almost as well as they did on 10-foot baskets, and big guys couldn’t block everything that came their way.

Normally I would ask for some type of reference to see this is true or some sort of proof, any kind of proof, but I know I won't get any. So the comment "smaller men have shot almost as well as they did on 10-foot baskets" means nothing to me. There is no proof given this comment has any credibility and considering Telander is arguing for the rims to be raised, he has incentive to exaggerate a bit on this claim.

Said former University of Tennessee center and longtime Bulls center Tom Boerwinkle after playing a preseason college game in 1967 on 12-foot baskets: ‘‘Usually I block six or eight shots a game, but I didn’t have a chance tonight because of the higher arc.’’

I can't help but laugh at this. Tom "The Liar" Boerwinkle says he blocked 6 or 8 shots per game in college preseason games. I guess we will have to trust him on this because the NCAA didn't start counting blocks as a statistic until the 1985-1986 season. So we'll have to take his word for it.

We could also use his NBA career statistics to see how good of a shot blocker Boerwinkle was in order to see if his claim from college could be true. He had 138 total career blocks in 10 NBA seasons. He blocked 0.5 shots per game. It seems possibly he could have blocked a ton of shots in college, but that skill didn't translate to the NBA. Of course, this is a guy who played on a ten foot rim in the NBA and didn't seem able to just block shots at will, so his saying he didn't have a chance on the larger baskets doesn't mean much to me.

This helps me prove a ten-foot rim in the NBA should not be changed because a player who was dominant at blocking shots in college wasn't as dominant in the NBA. In the NBA, the players are so athletic, being tall doesn't mean you are automatically a great shot blocker or rebounder. The 10-foot rim was an issue against lesser competition, but it evened out when the competition's ability got better.

Another of the reasons it does not mean much to me is that Boerwinkle was one of the giants that Phog Allen was so worried about hurting the game. It seems like while playing on a ten foot rim in the NBA, Boerwinkle didn't have an easy time of blocking shots, his being a "giant" didn't have a negative effect on the game of basketball. An NBA game is different from playing a college preseason game and the fact Boerwinkle supposedly blocked 6-8 shots per game in college and then couldn't even muster 1 block per game during any season in his NBA career shows this. For me, Boerwinkle's statement is more reason why the NBA should not raise the rims, specifically based on supposed events that happened playing against lesser competition.

I started to think seriously about rim-raising after 6-3 Bulls guard Derrick Rose repeatedly was unable to shoot close to the basket against the Miami Heat because there simply was not enough glass above the rim to angle in a shot above supreme athletes such as Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

So because Derrick Rose couldn't get to the rim the entire game of basketball should be adjusted so that he can get to the basket easier? I hate to break it to Rick Telander, but raising the rims by any amount isn't going to cause LeBron James or Dwayne Wade to be less athletic, nor will it help Rose get to the basket when being guarded by an equally athletic, taller player like James.

I have to say, I love his reasoning the rules should be changed because Derrick Rose couldn't get to the basket. Clearly, this means the NBA should change their rules around to accommodate Rose.

It came to a head when I saw the Dallas Mavericks’ 6-2 Jason Terry dunk on the massive, 6-8 James in the first game of the NBA Finals. The ball went through, but Terry was nearly killed by the arrogant collision with James.

So two examples, both examples involving LeBron James...maybe we should just outlaw LeBron James from playing defense or accept he is a good defender and a hell of an athlete rather than change the NBA game around. Or would that be too easy?

So earlier in the column Rick Telander complained it is too easy for players to dunk in the NBA, but now he is complaining Jason Terry didn't have an easy time dunking the ball because LeBron James was in his way. So dunking is too easy in the NBA and that's why the rims should be raised, except when dunking isn't too easy and that's why the rims should be raised?

When 5-9 Nate Robinson can make monstrous slams,

Did no one care when Spud Webb could dunk? How come the giants and the athleticism of Webb wasn't ruining the game? Probably because Telander's team, the Chicago Bulls, had their own high-flying player (Michael Jordan) who could make monstrous slams. Clearly, the NBA had no need to raise the rims at that point, that's just silly to think.

and 6-10 Blake Griffin can jump over automobiles and lions, raising the rim to 10-6 would help all.

Blake Griffin could still dunk at that level. Not sure it would do much but arbitrarily change the height of the rim.

I fear the power-leaping Griffin might someday destroy himself by hitting his head on the backboard, which hangs down far below the rim.

This is a fear we all don't share.

If the height is not changed, some incredible athlete is going to be able to block 15-foot jumpers, before their descent, from five feet away.

I'm not so great at physics, but I am pretty sure this is impossible unless the player shooting the ball throws the ball directly parallel to the height he jumped and doesn't put any arc on the ball for a player to block the shot from 5 feet away. So while it is really interesting to think of this happening, I am not sure this would happen more than once. I would imagine a shooter has to shoot the ball at least 12-13 feet in the air or so to make a basket so the person jumping would have to time it right and get his hand in the air about 12-13 feet from 5 feet away from the player. This type of thing doesn't feel likely to become a problem.

All sports tinker with their rules and dimensions. Heck, football once didn’t have the forward pass.

The changes need to make sense. This doesn't.

Raising the rim will help stop the football-like wrestling underneath and the clubbing that goes on when men drive.

Rick Telander does realize even if the rim is raised there will be still be wrestling underneath the basket because there will still be rebounds, right? If anything, I think the wrestling would get worse because players no longer had to worry about jumping high enough to affect the rebound coming off the rim. Players could jump up with impunity and not have to worry about colliding with the rim either.

I don't think the clubbing when players drive would stop either. Players could still make a layup and would jump high in the air to get the ball in the basket, so the defensive player would still have a chance to club him.

Though...imagine a guy trying a put-back dunk on a 12-foot basket and missing the basket completely. Being able to see a video of this would make it almost worth it to have a taller rim.

It will bring back more skilled shooting.

This is pure speculation. A taller goal may bring back more skilled shooting or it may just bring more outside shooting. Seriously, the NBA doesn't need to turn into the WNBA where only a few select players are capable of highlight-making dunks or plays around the rim. The NBA has a few problems, but I don't see the height of the rim as one of them. Not to sound derogatory, but I think if you want a picture of what the NBA would be like with a 11 or 12-foot rim, then take a look at the WNBA and then decide if you like what you see.

Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke, you say?

I say better to adjust it before it blows up.

Which, as detailed well by Rick Telander here, people like Phog Allen have been predicting the game would blow up for 80 years now. It hasn't happened, even with taller and more athletic players playing in the NBA. So the fears of the NBA being "blown up" isn't any closer to realization than it was 30 years ago, no matter what Rick Telander wants you to think.

And if you want to talk about a four-point shot, I’m ready.

Because the one thing that can help more skilled shooting is to offer a 35-foot four-point shot. Josh Smith's outside field goal percentage would dip to around 25% if this happened.


your favourite sun said...

We could also use his NBA career statistics to see how good of a shot blocker Boerwinkle was in order to see if his claim from college could be true. He had 138 total career blocks in 10 NBA seasons. He blocked 0.5 shots per game.

The NBA didn't start keeping blocked shots as a stat until the second half of Boerwinkle's career, so the 138 and 0.5 numbers are from his last five seasons, when his playing time was roughly halved from his first five years.

Bengoodfella said...

Sun, thanks for pointing that out. I don't know why I looked to see when college basketball started keeping track of blocks but ignored when the NBA started to do so. Thanks for pointing my mistake.

I still don't know if the rims should be raised or not.

your favourite sun said...

Don't worry, I wasn't disagreeing with your point. Even if Boerwinkle was a shot blocking beast for five years it wouldn't be a compelling reason to raise the rims. Especially now that he's retired and didn't ruin basketball for everyone when he played.

Bengoodfella said...

I really am glad you pointed that out. I'm not happy with myself. I even did the research to find out when the NCAA started counting blocks and then didn't do it for the NBA.

(slaps self on the wrist)

Players today are more athletic and I wouldn't be against raising the rims if there was a compelling reason. There really isn't at this point and the players Telander used as examples are all the best players in the NBA and have athleticism where they can do some things other players can't.

Matt said...

Ben, while i agree with all your points, i have to say that i still think that raising the rim would be a good idea.

i've thought this for some time. the dunk just isn't special enough anymore. the fact of the matter is that players athleticism HAS changed, and changed enough to tweak this aspect of the game. the lanes should be wider too (see Euroball). i don't think that they should be raised to the point where no one can dunk, but 6-8 inches wouldn't be so terrible, and it would make dunks more interesting.

i also think that football fields need to be widened. that would really help solve some of the concussion problems in the NFL. go ahead, ask me how.

Bengoodfella said...

Matt, I can see your point though. The athleticism in the NBA has changed. I don't think it has changed to where the game is being negatively affected by players being able to dunk the basketball. I guess it is a matter of opinion, but to me the rim is fine where it is at. Raising it six inches probably wouldn't do too much to change the game, but I don't know if we are at that point now.

Plus, we about all those kids out there play on a 10 foot goal. Parks would have to change the height around, as would anyone who has a non-adjustable basketball goal. Think about the kids!

I am open to the lane being wider and I think the three point line should be moved back in college basketball as well.

How would making the field wider reduce concussions?

Matt said...

NFL players have "outgrown" the dimensions of a football field. same amount of guys, same space, but soooo much more speed. more space would change A LOT of the high impact collisions that we see now.

if a wideout beats his guy, a safety can easily race over towards his direction and get there very quickly. it looks like he would be wide open, but by the time the ball arrives he is not. BOOM!

a wider field would make it harder for defenders who are off the ball to get there in time to make a big hit.

hard to explain, but does that make sense?

sanjaykn said...

height should be raised period at senior level( nba and all professional basketball bodies).
The players are just too tall and can just touch the rim by raising their arm( that is a big no no and violates the very purpose of the rim at a given height).
The goaltending was massive as anybody could touch the rim. With average reach of players being 9 ft plus in nba, it is high time rimm height is raised to 11 ft at least.
No player must be able to touch the rim by jumping under the rim. That should be the criteria.
In the post season players could swap the ball from the basket. westbrook can virtually jump above the rimm and kd can take out the ball from inside the rim by looking inn.
A dunk has become a normal activity, it is not special anymore. I totally agree with telender. It is high time nba raised the height of the rim!

Bengoodfella said...

Sanjaykn, if we used the criteria that no player should be able to touch the rim by jumping under the rim then they would have to raise it to 12 feet. Miles Plumlee has a 40+ inch vertical jump and he is a 6'10." He could touch the rim under the basket at all 11 feet. Will the NBA really raise the rim based on what a D-league player like Miles Plumlee can do?

I think dunks still are special and if people wanted to watch a league where the game was played below the rim and it was incredibly hard to dunk, the WNBA would be more popular than it is.

sanjaykn said...

hi beng,
Doing nothing is a bad idea. When it was conceived the players were never close to this height! What I meant was no player must be able to touch the rimm or swap the ball under the post with just a hop( hop is a stand jump).
I am totally convinced that 10 ft rim is a big no no! Every player in the nba, now can basically dunk with no effort. It has been bothering me for since the 1990's and I am appalled nba has not taken notice of it!
This violates the very purpose of the height!

One coach has 12 foot rim somewhere! Even paul pierce has asked for rim raise!
These days with 7 plus footers under the rimm, what purpose 10 foot serve?
No wonder teams are going for big men because they can reach the rimm with no fuss! Looking for easy blocks and baskets. They must earn their points with skill and not just reach period.

It has to be done in nba and even at olympics. leave it alone at ncaa level, I might add.

sanjaykn said...

There is no point in arguing, if nba does not take notice of some of our vehement objection!

these columnist must complaint to the nba.

I have no idea, they have a committee to look in to this or it is left to the dictat of the head!

wnba, has not yet evolved, the skill level is low!

Let us stick to men's game first!

I do not see any fun with howard or kd just dumping the basket with no effort. Even shaq did it! They should have woken up 2 decades ago!

Bengoodfella said...

Sanjaykn, I don't know if I see the issue you do. I don't see a ton of big men just dumping the ball in the basket and getting easy rebounds. Talented big men like Dwight Howard obviously have an easier time doing this, but overall I don't think any big man can rule around the rim. If this were true guys like Robin/Brook Lopez, Hasheem Thabeet, or Cole Aldrich would be All-Stars.

The Top 10 players in blocks this past year were big guys, but that isn't unusual or because of the rim height. It's because they are taller players. These guys would still lead the NBA in blocks even if the goal was 12 feet tall.

I think it is ridiculous to say every player in the NBA can now dunk with no effort. I don't think that is even close to being true.

sanjaykn said...

Every nba player can just hop and touch the rim. I am seeing just that in these games! 7 foot guys are just running to lay or dunk with no shooting skills at all! The mid-range game seems to have virtually disappeared. They got to raise the rim as players are too tall these days(they are easily pushing 7 foot).
nba calls itself world class but they are not leading the change. If paul pierce says it has to be raised( I agree with him). I am appalled no body is even discussing this problem in the nba!!