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Looking at European Basketball to See What's Broken in the NBA

Tremendous insight on differences between American and Euro basketball from Dan Peterson.

Once again, nothing may be 'broken' in the NBA, so maybe I should not 'fix' anything. But it's fun running the NBA, OK? One of the things European fans do not like about the NBA involves the length of the games. They ask, "How come a 90-minute soccer game is played in one hour and 45 minutes, maximum, while a 48-minute NBA game takes two hours and 30 minutes, minimum? Of course, soccer has what is called 'running time,' with no clock stoppage, and the NBA stops its clock. If the clock were stopped in soccer, like it is in the NBA, the games would be about 45' of effective playing time. Still, European fans are used to flow.

Flow: Time-Outs (1). A time-out in Europe lasts just 60". After that, you'd better have your team out on the floor and ready to play or they will call you for a Technical Foul. I've seen it happen. If you are on defense and not out there, they'll give the ball to the other team, let them in-bound and score. I've seen it happen. So, the European fan is used to a 60" time out and has a hard time with the 2' time outs in the NBA. Sure, they sell ads on TV. Well, reduce the income from that and that will reduce the salary cap. "Fellas, it's not $60,000,000 anymore, it's just $30,000,000. I love this! Decrease revenue and increase flow.

Flow: Time-Outs (2). When I coached in Europe, you had two time-outs each half, and you could not 'bank' time outs from the first half to the second half. No required TV time outs. I coached many games in which I did not call a single time out. I called them only to "put out a fire". So, fans (including friends in the US) have a hard time with so many time-outs in the NBA, especially at the end of the game. They ask, "Why do they need to draw a play? Don't they already have a play they've worked on? Don't they practice?" Whatever, I'd like to see fewer time-outs for fewer minutes, as that would let the teams keep the flow of the game.

Flow: Half-Time. When I coached in Italy, half-time was just 10'. It's now 15', as it is in the NBA. Well, almost. In Europe, if you are not ready to play after those 15', you are in trouble with the officials. In the NBA, a half-time may last 17'. I will say this: The fans in Europe don't really embrace the 15' half time in basketball, though it is the same for soccer. They want to see teams get into the flow of the game, knowing that ups the quality of play, the shooting percentages, cuts down on turnovers, makes for a better 'product.' Whatever, there is no doubt that every interruption forces both teams to 'start over' when play resumes, hurting the 'flow' of the game.

Flow: Injuries. I'm back to injuries. I'm sorry but a highly-tuned athlete cannot go flat out for two minutes, then have a two-minute time out, then go flat-out for two minutes and then have another two-minute time out, etc. The body does not work that way. You have to get it going and keep it going. You don't want the systems cooling down or shutting off. They don't take time-outs in Olympic Marathons, do they?. Well, I'd just like to see fewer breaks, shorter breaks and more continuous flow. I think it would lead to better play and fewer injuries. And would put a premium on cardiovascular conditioning. You know, Go with the Flow. D


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