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Czar Stern wants to speed up games

Chuck - Red's Army May 20, 2011 Uncategorized 3 Comments

The length of games is a concern of David Stern and the NBA Board of Governors, reports TrueHoop's Henry Abbott.

One consideration is to reduce the number of time-outs. But Abbott did a little experiment that exposes the real problem:

Now, to the NBA rulebook, where we learn that NBA timeouts are, at their longest, 100 seconds.

From there — keep up! — to the stopwatch on my new-fangled phone (on which, by the way, I can now watch ESPN games live, which is shocking), which I started when a recent playoff timeout was granted.

215 seconds. More than double the prescribed length.

Later I clocked a 20-second timeout, which included, amusingly, exactly 20 seconds of stoppage before going to a 30-second commercial. The ball was back in play 76 seconds after the cutely-named "20-second" timeout started.

So, OK, yes, I hear the commissioner's point about reducing the number of timeouts. And, in all honesty, I hear the point about needing to play those commercials that pay the bills. There's a reason it is the way it is, and this is a business.

However, if the judgment of the league is that games need to be shorter, let's not be squishy about how games got long. It has almost nothing to do with players hustling back to the court. It has to do with the fact that while a lot of that rulebook is enforced to the letter of the law, that 100-second stipulation … referees aren't exactly enforcing that one, and the league knows exactly why.

Does anyone have an issue with the length of NBA games? I sure don't.

How about addressing important stuff… like the awful inconsistent officiating or the late East Coast starts for playoff games?

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/viva2811 viva

    Well, I do think there’s too much off court time during the games. I love the game, but pauses are too long. One game from start to the end last over 2 1/2 hours, and there’s only 48 mins of real action, assuming it’s a clean game.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/waber Nick Waber

    Keeping the timeouts to the prescribed length would be ideal, but what I find cripples the pace of the game is the timeout calls during the last 2 minutes of the fourth quarter.
    Coming from a rugby background, I have a skewed view of this: pro rugby coaches really only have contact with their players at halftime during a match. He may send on some subs, but there is no timeout. The players (highly trained professionals who have dedicated their lives to the sport) are left to their own devices on the pitch, and it is the on-field team leadership who guide team strategy adjustments. I would like to see basketball adopt a similar strategy.
    My proposal:
    1) Coaches get 2 timeouts per half, 1 minute each. If they want to provide further in-depth guidance, they can sub out the 5 players, have a quick chat, use a foul or something, and sub ‘em back in.
    2) No TV timeouts. There is always dead space on the screen (ie. the crowd). stick a screen within a screen for the adverts, like in soccer, rugby, and other sports that don’t stop the whole game to sell crap on TV. The advertising still happens, but does not disrupt the flow of the game.
    Alternatively, the coaches could be given three or four cumulative minutes of time-out per game. The minimum charge is 30 seconds, but the coach can call time for as long or as short (above 30 seconds) as he likes. The other team must conform within ~5 seconds or face a tech. (Still no TV timeouts, though.)
    I also agree on the “inconsistent” reffing in the playoffs. There was no way Boston could beat Miami’s “big three”. James, Wade and Bosh were had some good games too. Actually, “consistent reffing” was pretty much the one thing you could count on in that series.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/frickenwaaaltaaah frickenWaaaltaaah

    How about a shorter tenure for the Commissioner.