Written by on June 4, 2018

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS June 4, 2018, #695…The NBA
After further review…Follow-up to last week’s TunneySide of Sports column/blog regarding the NCAA and the investigation of its practices of recruiting and, perhaps, paying its athletes, let’s explore the next level for some of those college basketball stars that move on to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The subject of recruiting and pay is moot, albeit interesting since the NBA draft and its pay structure is governed by the league and its players’ association (NBAPA). The subject herein is the style of play in today’s NBA game.
I have played, coached, and officiated basketball for over 40 years, although not at the NBA level. I have watched professional basketball evolve for another 40. This is written and sent to press before the NBA begins its World Championship with Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers opening against Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven game series. I will watch these two battle it out, but with some reservations.
Physicality. The size of today’s players makes it impossible to avoid physical contact in a space 94′ x 50′. Yet, when the league allows a defensive player to place his hands or arms on an offensive opponent who does or doesn’t have the ball, it invites further contact. When players are cutting across the frontcourt (now 47′ x 50′) to set screens, set-up plays, etc., we notice the grabbing (actual arm around the body) of those offensive “cutters”.
Backing-down. Is a term used to describe an offensive player who, with his back to the defensive player (and to the basket) deliberately charges into his defensive opponent, often several times, to gain a better shooting position. The defender then uses his body and arms to push back or protect himself. Often the defender is knocked to the floor by that charge. However, don’t blame the officials for not calling a foul, since league rules allow it.
Charging/Blocking. You make that call! It happens so frequently that, as one NBA official told me, “Ya gotta pick your poison.” The league has even placed a semi-circle in the three-second lane nearer the basket that establishes a defender’s rightful position, provided he is stationary inside that area before the offensive player enters it or is in the air. (you figure that one out). Further, an offensive player with the ball may physically drive his shoulder into a defender (with no charging foul being called) while dribbling toward the basket (think LeBron). There is more to cover, but this will suffice for starters.
Will you log-in your thoughts about the style of play in the NBA?
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