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NBA Fix #1 - The Fast Break Reborn!

The Rockets, indeed, the whole Association, should benefit from these changes.

Instant Replay Triggered!
Hostile Act Inbound
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Fix #1 is the first in what I hope will be a fun series on suggested, proposed, or merely longed-for fixes, or changes, to improve the game we all love.

Also, it’s a bit of the other kind of fix, as we’re not into training camp yet. The NBA continues to provide largely interesting and non-depressing entertainment year-round, but this is still something of a dry patch.

Sometimes Adam Silver hears your prayers. (Sometimes he doesn’t.)

If you’ve read my writing, or comments, long enough you’ll know that I hate, despise, loathe and revile basketball rule violations that give an advantage to the team violating the rules.

Don’t leave, this isn’t another disquisition on “Hack-A”!

No, this is a discussion of a meritorious rule change proposed by the NBA competition committee. The story was reported August 23rd to what I thought would be universal acclaim. Perhaps because it was the dog days of summer and NBA pundits were frisking on the Adriatic, no one seems to have said much about it. There should have been fireworks, at least.

The NBA proposes the fix a situation that has truly gotten out of hand: the assassination of heroic fastbreaks by the coward, cheap touch fouls.

We’ve seen it happen all too often. Upon a turnover the team winning the ball attempts to get out on the break for one of the most exciting plays in the game. But wait, no, stop: foul. One player grabbed another’s wrist far away from the play. On the floor, side out. No thunderous dunk. No exciting layup, or chase down block. No fun.

This, mildly, is disgusting. It has also been distressingly common since what some believe to be its widespread introduction to NBA players via FIBA play. One team is deprived of an easy basket, the fans are deprived of enjoyment, and the team committing the rule infraction clearly benefits the most.

And it seemed the existing “Clear Path” foul is never called, no matter how clear the path appears on such plays. That infraction has been historically treated by the referees as something akin to “The Nuclear Option”, such was their reluctance to call it. Now they may have little choice. The NBA’s proposed new language is quoted herein.

Numbers one and three should eliminate much of the cheap fast-break fouling. Number two is roughly the call almost no referee would make, because that bit of judgement, unlike all the other hundreds of items of referee judgment in a game, was too much, somehow.

The changed call would still result in the current clear-path violation outcome - two free free throws, and ball side-out to the team that was fouled. It’s not quite my dream of an automatic two point award and side out to the fouled team, but it’s good.

It is difficult to see how the referees can avoid making this call now, under these rules. It is delightful to contemplate. The expectation is that fast breaks will be allowed to continue. The worry is that opposing a fast break via actual defense, contesting the shot, will trigger the call erroneously. Overall, I’d rather see the break happen, and risk the bad calls.

There were two more proposed changes: resetting the shot clock to 14 seconds, instead of 24, after an offensive rebound. Again, count me in. Less time for pointless dribbling (I’m looking at you, James,) is better.

Finally, the referee TV instant replay video review terms for a “hostile act” have been broadened to include hostile interaction with a coach, referee, or fan, rather than simply another player. It is currently unclear whether actions initiated by Clutch The Bear would also trigger a review. Video review fills me with ennui, but this seems worthy.

The rule changes go before the NBA owners on September 21st for a vote, requiring a 2/3rds majority for passage.

Pray for them.


Will the proposed rule changes pass?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Yes. Praise be.
    (66 votes)
  • 7%
    No. The NBA needs more cheap fouls and the owners know this.
    (8 votes)
  • 27%
    Only if Mark Cuban allows it. Mavs in Three!
    (28 votes)
102 votes total Vote Now