Expanded replay means longer NBA games

Changes to the NBA’s replay policy will result in longer games and a virtual stoppage of play at every whistle at the ends of games. In their pursuit to get every call right, the NBA’s brain-trust has decided to expand the use of replay in a move to improve their product. On the surface this isn’t such a bad thing. We all want the calls to be right and the game can be served on several fronts if calls are more consistent and they are correct.

But, with the change, there is no way around the fact that the continuity of an NBA game will be affected. Out-going Commissioner David Stern told assembled media in Las Vegas this week that officials will now be able to use replay for things they didn’t necessarily see in “real time.” Therefore, if they go to the monitor for a goal-tending or out-of-bounds play and they see a shove, a trip or a push they can call a foul and dis-regard what they initially went to the video to see.

Second, game officials will now be able to go to the video replay on controversial block/charge calls in the paint. Referees will only be able to view replays of the block/charge on plays that take place within the restricted area. The restricted area is that small half circle under-neath the hoop that was put there to prevent defensive players from setting up shop too close to the bucket. THIS is the call that I think is going to really stretch these games out. I am not mad the league wants to get the call right. But, the excess time at the ends of ALL NBA games will be prohibitive.

If the league wants to get more calls right and have a free-flowing game I suggest doing something a little bit different. Why not have your game officials go through a training regimen that tells them to quit “anticipating” plays and making calls when in some cases there are no infractions. Too many times during an NBA game we see officials “take games over” in the waning minutes, making calls that they haven’t made all night long. Now, I will concede that some of these calls are made because the intensity levels at the ends of NBA games are ratcheted up a few notches (i.e. teams playing harder) but in most cases its just game officials who just can’t help themselves and make calls for the sake of making calls.

In the end, I hope the product is better with the use of replay. But, I know I better bring my blanket and pillow because I will be off to never-never land while the officials haggle over a block/charge at the scorers table.


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