Thursday, February 21, 2013

the last book I ever read (David George Surdam's The Rise of the National Basketball Association, excerpt eleven)

from The Rise of the National Basketball Association by David George Surdam:

The league passed the rule adopting a twenty-four-second shot clock a month later. Syracuse Nationals owner Danny Biasone devised the rule by dividing the complete game time of forty-eight minutes by an average number of field goals attempted during a game. Apparently Biasone had tried earlier to convince his fellow owners that a shot clock would alleviate many of the woes occurring late in the game. Biasone was not alone in advocating for a shot clock; referee Eddie Boyle and Boston Celtic Ed Macauley both urged implementing some sort of time limit on possessing the ball. Macauley told a luncheon audience: “Make us shoot the ball within a certain time and you’ll see a better game. Imagine the feeling of fans at the game or at home listening on the radio, when they know the other club has to shoot the ball and their team can get possession late in a game with a resultant chance to tie or win.” As with baseball’s choice of ninety feet between bases, the NBA’s twenty-four-second rule seems a perfect choice in balancing offense and defense. Olympic and college game eventually chose variations on the rule, with college basketball waiting decades before implementing a shot clock. The league also changed the number of team fouls per quarter before assessing penalty free throws. Initially the rule stipulated that a team would be allowed two free throws for every foul committed on the team over six in any quarter (with suitable adjustment for overtime periods). Owners, coaches, players, and fans quickly embraced the new rules.

Within a year the twenty-four-second shot clock received praise such as, “It is this rule that can be singularly pointed to today as re-establishing the spectator interest that has now been rejuvenated in America’s most popular wintertime activity.” Sportswriter Harold Rosenthal commented in 1958: “The freeze and its various stalling overtones were putting the game ‘on ice’ in more ways than one. The proceedings had degenerated into an ugly exhibition of late hacking and fouling. . . . [Implementation of the shot clock means that] today no lead is safe in the last two minutes. Few indeed are the customers who will leave before the final buzzer, no matter how cock-eyed the margin seems to be at the moment.”

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