Credit where credit is due….To the NBA

If Im quick to criticize, its only fair that Im quick to praise.

Thank you David Stern. Thank you Ronnie Nunn. Thank you Stu Jackson. Because of the initiative and action taken by the NBA to call the game by the rules as written, we have the seen the game become much more free flowing, and as a result the scoring is way, way up , reversing a long trend of decline.

I know that Ronnie Nunn and Stu Jackson put in a lot of hours going through tape, coming to the realization, correctly so, that contact on the perimeter slows down play, impacts shooting percentage and gives the defense an advantage that shouldnt be there.

I know there are some playground purists that think the league “should let them play”. Suggesting that if there isnt a turnover or blood caused by contact that its ok. Honestly, there is no commentary in all of NBA punditry that is stupider. The ironic thing is that those same people who call out for “let them play”., are usually the same ones who consider themselves basketball purists.

Well guess what guys. Playing basketball “the right way”, to quote Larry Browns now popular phrase, means a defender should be in a defensive stance, moving his feet, arms extended, keeping his man in front of him. Playing defense the right way is not compensating for lack of defensive desire or skill by bumping , pushing, grabbing and stiff-arming. A defender does these things to compensate for lack of ability to keep up with the offensive player. There isnt a single instance of defensive contact that isnt an effort to impede an offensive player and gain an advantage.

The NBA has instances where defensive contact isallowed. In the post, etc. Now Stu and Ronnie have made it clear that contact outside of those allowed areas will be called as fouls.

This is the point where the pundits say “if you call all the contact on the perimeter, the game will take forever. It was fine like it was”. Again, a stupid comment. Think about the logic behind the comment.

When there is contact initiated by a defender on an offensive player under the current rules, you force the referee to make a snap decision. Did the contact impede the offensive player ? Did it give the defender an edge ? Is it within the guidelines that we have established for defenders? All of this has to happen in a nanosecond. This puts the onus on the official to make a subjective decision and just complicates the job and increases the number of mistakes officials make in a given game.

The alternative that is now being enforced, takes the pressure to judge off of the official and puts it on the player where it should be. Now the defensive player can make a choice.He can play defense “the right way”, without touching the offensive player. If the offensive player beats him, or puts him in a bad position, its the defenders choice whether to touch, knowing it will be a foul, or to let him go, hoping a teammate will help.

The players, for the most part, are smart enough to make the decision. Those who cant, get in to foul trouble quickly, and put their team in the bonus quickly. More importantly,the game is far, far better because the control is completely in the hands of the players.

Better enforcement of the rules is translating into higher scoring games as players are able to move and shoot with more freedom. Defenders who cant move their feet are finding themselves in foul trouble earlier and thats leading to the bonus and more free throws being shot. Together , scoring so far this year is up about 7 points per game vs scoring through November of last year.

Here is some more evidence of how the game has improved compared to only last year.

Through November of 2003, there were 7 teams averaging 95 pointsor better. This year there are 19. Last year there were 10 teams scoring under 90 points. This year there are 4. Last year there was 1team with an adjusted field goal percentage of 50 pct or better. This year there are 7.

The examples go on and on.

The best news is that defense is usually better than offense early in the season, so shooting gets better as the season goes on.

Right now we are getting the best of both worlds. Teams that can play offense and defense “the right way”, with the game being decided by the players, and not by the officials.

Commissioner Stern says to expect this to continue the entire season, which is a beautiful thing.

Thank you Commish, Ronnie Nunn and Stu Jackson

47 thoughts on “Credit where credit is due….To the NBA

  1. More importantly easier open court looks and higher percentage shots.
    With so many factors like scouting, coaching, team philosophy, player movement in the off season with free agency and the draft it is hard to determine one factor with this change. I am just glad that the games have been more fun to watch and I hope that this increased scoring continues!

    Comment by runescape money -

  2. This has to be the dumbest rule in the world and actually harms the offensive team rather than helping them.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  3. I read all of your blog entries every day, I just want to tell you that Dallas could have been better if you didn’t let go of Steve Nash you sent away the two-time MVP away just like that… Another point, all my chatmates from webdatedotcom says that sometimes you should learn how to shut up

    Comment by thynoe -

  4. Looks good!
    Your site is very good. Thank you for the opportunity to post comments.
    Go on like this and i will surely visit your site again sometime.

    Comment by download -

  5. Looks good!
    Your site is very good. Thank you for the opportunity to post comments.
    Go on like this and i will surely visit your site again sometime.

    Comment by download -

  6. Mark – You are great, The team has played so much better under your control. Keep up the great work. Beat LA

    Comment by brett -

  7. Thanks again.

    Comment by Billy Earl Taylor -

  8. Thanks.

    Comment by Billy Earl Taylor -

  9. Talkng about let the players play the game
    The thing that I hate about the game is the BOO
    BIRDS. If you put them on the floor they would
    find out how hard it is to play the game.

    Comment by Billy Earl Taylor -

  10. from my blog:
    The NBA had one of its darkest moments tonight. And before I get to hear what Commissioner Stearn has to say, I want to share my thoughts about the brawl between the Pistons, Pacers, those individuals who chose to cross the line, and those who chose not to apprehend them.

    For anyone at that game who did nothing to stop those who decided to cross the line, shame on you. For all Detroit Palace security officers who did not apprehend those individuals in the stands who decided to cross the line, shame on you. The blame I place for the dominoe effect of shattering the image put forth at the start of the NBA new year is everyone who decided to turn away and watch mayhem unfold. Shame on you.

    And for honors, I congratulate Jermaine O’Neal for that punch on the fan who came onto the court.

    I have plenty to say about this incident. I will be writing more tomorrow…but for now, NBA should have the balls to suspend Ben Wallace, and do NOTHING ELSE except prevent Detroit Fans from sitting in the lower deck at the next 5 home games and in all Pacer-Piston games for the next 5 years. This, coming from an NBA fan of 28 years, and from someone who has a lot of respect for the Detroit organization and their title run in ’04.

    For all of you soda splashing, chair throwing, fist flinging idiots in Detroit…. you blew it. But who blew it more were those who failed to apprehend those who have now ruined the image of the NBA.

    Comment by greg -

  11. It is much more enjoyable to watch NBA games this year because of how the flow of most of the games have changed due to minor tweaks in the play calling. I’m glad the days are long gone of just passing the ball in the low post every play and then backing the guy down. It also seems that since the tweaks in play calling has happened that more teams are running more “motion” type offense.

    Comment by Shaun Cronrath -

  12. Fly, sky and score – that’s what it’s all about.

    Comment by Mike -

  13. I read where Mr. Cuban was fined by the NBA for blogging his concerns about the NBA having opening night on election night (NOV 2).

    I wish to extend my thanks to you Mr. Cuban for standing up and voicing this concern. The NBA’s attitude for doing so tells me that they think they’re bigger than America. I understand this may be too much criticism, however when can professional sports league administrators put the importance of this great country first?

    I admire your stance and agree with you Mr. Cuban. I now hope that the NBA will listen and learn.

    Comment by mike bertelsen -

  14. …Now if we could only get them to call carrying/travelling by the rules…

    Comment by K.C. -

  15. The most exciting basketball was the Denver Nuggets in the 80’s where they got regularly 130, 140 points in a game. Those days are gone forever, but it’s nice to see scoring up. The Mavericks and Suns are the closest thing we have to those 80’s teams…and the fans love it, so hopefully, the league will continue to let that thrive.

    Comment by Wade -

  16. If you get fined for criticism what happens when you praise….a get out of fine free card?

    I agree with this and really believe this is what we mean by let them play…play the right way…it is real hard to praise the officiating after last night’s game though…what was up with the balls being “pinned” to the backboard…is that not goal tending in the league anymore?

    Comment by Steve -

  17. If you get fined for criticism what happens when you praise….a get out of fine free card?

    I agree with this and really believe this is what we mean by let them play…play the right way…it is real hard to praise the officiating after last night’s game though…what was up with the balls being “pinned” to the backboard…is that not goal tending in the league anymore?

    Comment by Steve -

  18. Looks like TIVO took your advice about advertising while skipping commercials.

    story on Yahoo!

    Comment by Brian -

  19. Highly agreed.

    An example for me is Iverson. I like seeing Iverson slip into the lane and make things happen. Lately though everytime he gets by his defender, the defender will touch him just enough to throw him off. That gives the other defender enough time to come out. That ain’t fun.

    Comment by austin fsbo -

  20. #22 and #23, I’m new to this “blog” concept, and have only read a couple of Mr. Cuban’s blogs, and can surmise that with Mavs winning or losing, Mr. Cuban’s personal opinion expressed shows no bias.

    How many people can write intelligently about what the music industry could do to rebuild their reputation with people (and still make money) and officiating sports, and still control a multi million dollar sports team. Not too many.

    Thanks Sir.

    TSgt Scott Robinson
    United States Air Force

    Comment by Scott D. Robinson -

  21. I love the higher-scoring games, I’ve seen a bunch so far this year on FSN via 4DTV. So, Mark, what can you do for those of us big-dish owners who are going to lose the opportunity to see, for the first time in years, some decent NBA ball when FSN goes off C-band this January? Shouldn’t we have the same oppportunity to buy the League Pass that small-dish owners have?

    Comment by Ira Zipkin -

  22. Jason, you got me all wrong. Actually, I’m a huge Pacer fan and a Mark Cuban fan. But I’m calling it like I see it.

    Comment by J.R. -

  23. The idea of superstar treatment and make-up calls is simply a figment of fans’ imagination. Non-officials do not understand how difficult the job really is. For those that think they can hack it, go to – we could always use a few more refs!

    Comment by TexRef -

  24. I couldn’t agree more! Enforcing contact rules as they SHOULD be called has done nothign but help the game. ANd to #22 & #23, come on now, sounds to me like you’re just looking for a reason to hate him. If he complains he’s a bad guy. If he doesn’t complain, he’s just doing it ’cause the Mavs are winning.

    The new officiating has hurt the Pacers’ defense (along with their insane amount of injuries), but I still love the change. I don’t care that it hurt the Pacers. I like watching good basketball, not pro wrestling with a few dunks thrown in.

    Comment by Jason (Go Pacers) -

  25. I agree with #22. If the change didn’t benefit the MAVS I really doubt Mark would be singing its praises.

    Comment by Gary Meyers -

  26. Gee, there’s a surprise. Mark Cuban being nice when the Mavs. are winning. If they were losing, this would be a completely different blog bitching about why his guys are getting “ticky-tack” fouls.

    Comment by J.R. Ewing -

  27. Mark – you’re so right about the way the game has been called this year. Scoring is up and the games are more interesting. However, does officiating still need to be improved? I was at the Mavs-Wizards game yesterday and the officiating wasn’t that good. On one play, Nowitzki got (blatantly and obviously) shoved in the back and the officials didn’t call it. On another play, Nowitzki got undercut as he got a rebound and got called for traveling, instead of a sixth foul being called on Gilbert Arenas. Did you see the same officiating problems I saw yesterday?

    Comment by Albert Monroe -

  28. I agree with this step the NBA has taken. However, this still leaves at least 3 other problems with NBA officiating that makes it the worst among major sports.

    1. Superstar treatment. Allowing the stardom of the player to effect if a foul is called. I have to hear another NBA pundit tell me how you can’t call a foul because it is the team’s star, or how an iffy call is O.K. because it is being called on a little known player … well I won’t. I have already cut my NBA watching way down, because of my the inequities in the sport.

    2. Make up calls. To call a foul, because the ref feels he “missed one” on the other end. Or to rephrase, to make a bad call on purpose, because a ref made a bad call unintentionally earlier. Hello? I don’t want more bad calls. I want less bad calls.

    3. The post. Cutting down on physical play on the perimeter still leaves the physical play in the post. It should be O.K. to have contact in the post, but it should not be O.K. to move people off thier spots by outright pushing. This includes a defender pushing the offensive player out of the post. This includes offensive players “backing down” defenders by throwing thier behinds into them, and/or lowering thier shoulders on thier move towards the hoop. Each person has a right to the spot they are standing in. Basketball is not a pushing and shoving sport. It is about agility.

    Only baseball umps calling balls and strikes came close to being as bad as NBA refs. But with the advent of KZone grading, and increased media scrutiny, the umps have been getting better. The NBA refs, however, have a long way to go.

    Comment by John -

  29. Oh Boy!!!!

    How much are they going to fine you for this article!!!!


    Comment by Don Bates -

  30. I think what some are trying to say, including Mark, is that the players will police themselves if the referees will call the game as the rules state. The players want to play; and it’s only natural that they will get away with whatever they can. If they don’t have to move their feet on defense and can hand-check and push as an accepted form of “defense,” then they will do exactly that. Once they see that officials will call fouls, the learning curve will be swift. As a result, you’ll also get spectacular plays…if an offensive player makes an amazing move, he’ll get the SportsCenter highlight.

    The best thing Mark can do is to keep off the refs. They’re only human and when it gets done to brass tacks in the playoffs and there’s a close call that could go either way, it doesn’t seem inconceivable to me that a ref will stick it to the team/owner/coach who has been on their ass for a long time.

    Comment by Bruce Castleberry -

  31. Mark,
    While it is true that the scoring is up, we are only a few games into the season. I will be more inclined to give the NBA officials credit when they show a longer track record. There are also many other factors to consider with this increased scoring.
    The old saying, you can’t teach size is so true. However, teams have started to realize that it is so hard to find good big men and they are going to smaller quicker lineups. Teams like Phoenix, Seattle, Orlando, Philly, Washington, Dallas,Boston, and Milwaukee to name a few have one decent big man and 4 other guys with great guard skills. They are trying to push tempo with teams and this creates more looks. More importantly easier open court looks and higher percentage shots.
    With so many factors like scouting, coaching, team philosophy, player movement in the off season with free agency and the draft it is hard to determine one factor with this change. I am just glad that the games have been more fun to watch and I hope that this increased scoring continues!

    Comment by Brandon Goldman -

  32. The question is whether the same standard will be applied in May and June.

    At least The Glove won’t be in the playoffs this season, so late Spring muggings will be down.

    Comment by J from Fear Always Remains -

  33. Sorry Mark. This happens every year. They claim they’ll call it right. They try it in the pre-season, they do it less in the regular season, and we all beg for it in the post season.

    Your example stats are correct, but you’ll see the bend in the data come soon. The parabola of their broken promises will coincide exactly with the path of a three pointer. Happens every year. Shortly after Christmas is when it goes down hill.

    I look forward to your blog update about then…

    Comment by Transistor -

  34. I got a chance to watch the Nets Game yesterday on the YES network.
    Stackhouse killed them in the third and they had no answer for Dirk. My point is you should have heard the annoucers singing the praise of Don Nelson and his commttment to “Team Defence”.I think it was Tripuka who made the call that he thinks Dallas will be in the Western Finals. BTW watch Stern fine you for “praise”

    Comment by Depressed in NY -

  35. I wonder if owning Mavs is cuban’s only job?

    well, hes doing well so far. those fines just tell you how much cuban loves his team!

    Comment by Aris -

  36. David,

    I’m pretty sure Mark pays someone to get him weird researched statistical knowledge. I think Mark’s paid researcher IS the source. But hey, what do I know? 🙂


    Comment by Matt -

  37. Mark,
    This is Patti from Massillon, Ohio. I tried emailing you but I am not sure if you got it. I am the one that sent you important information certified. A lady in your office, Theta Hall, signed for it. Can some one in your office let me know either way if you will help?
    Thank You,

    Comment by Patti -

  38. I’m not super old, but it’s a great sign of maturity when you can both criticize the league and praise, to see both sides of the issue. More politicians should try this.

    Comment by Al -

  39. Mark can you try your best to have the clear path rule changed? This has to be the dumbest rule in the world and actually harms the offensive team rather than helping them. As it stands now if a player has a clear path to the basket (breakaway dunk or layup) and is fouled. It is 1 free throw and possession of hte ball.

    First off what are the percentages of a succesful breakaway scoring chance? I have gone over game logs and it is somewhere in the range of 95-97% depending on the definition of breakaway.

    .95 x 2 = 1.8 equity

    Now take the average FT % and combine that with a teams average scoring efficiency. When you do that it becomes clear that this isn’t a benefit by any stretch.

    What they should do to open up the game and create some more exciting basketball is ammend the rules to 2 free throws and possession. If you can’t get back and defend the breakaway, and inisist on fouling, good luck.

    Comment by bob -

  40. Still, the NBA can’t compete with the NFL. The NFL is awesome because there’s only 16 games, and every game matters enormously. The NBA schedule is so long that it’s impossible to get excited about one game. It’s the same problem with baseball.

    I would love the NBA if it was only a 32 game season. You would actually see every athlete play balls out.

    Comment by Entertainment News -

  41. does anyone know where i can find these statistics that mark cites?

    Comment by David -

  42. agree totally with your arguments… since i’ve also seen it happen to me on the playground.

    At the same time, I think they should also call it on the offensive if the same thing occurs. There are some cheap tricks the offense uses to gain an advantage too..

    For example, one move is to do a cross-over, and then using your free hand..swap away at the defender’s hands while driving past (all done in a swift motion so that it doesn’t look unnatural). (in boxing terms, it’s like doing a right hook, and then as you pull the right hand back, u use ur right hand to pull the other boxer’s left hand away to create an opening for your left hand punch… same move in bball)

    basketball is fun to play and fun to watch, but it gets really frustrating when people start doing cheap tricks.. i hope these new rules do help the play go more smoothly.

    Comment by charlie -

  43. Mark,

    It’s about time the league made these changes. In my opinion, when they “let them play” the game becomes slow and very ugly, to paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield:

    I went to a wrestling match and a basketball game broke out.

    Let’s hope this lasts through the season and into the playoffs.

    Comment by Michael Williams -

  44. So correct. The players will learn quickly after they get into foul trouble and are sitting on the bench the entire game. Either the players will learn to play defense “the right way” or they will be out of the league. Either way it’s better for the NBA.

    Comment by Rod -

  45. Mark, the league is getting better and you have been an integral part of this improvement. You have shown that people can no longer subscribe to the “that is just they way things are” mentality. Problems can be fixed, and I hope others see that once a problem is recognized and a recommendation can be made, then there are avenues for improvement (for anything!).

    2 final thoughts:

    1) Since Stern fined you for the negative comments, will he give you some cash for praising the league?

    2) That was a “comming of age” dunk by Harris in the Nets game….better than that pre-season dunk I commented about earlier.

    Go Defense! Go Mavs.

    Comment by greg -

  46. Mark:

    First of all, congrats. on the great performance of the Mavs. Yes, it’s still early in the season, but watching the game against the Heat, I’m sold on the concept of “building your team around Dirk”. What a great player he is.

    Although I am not exactly a Mavs. fan (I don’t have any fav. team), I like players with solid old school ball fundamentals like Peja, Dirk, Gasol, Duncan, Kidd (unfortunately most are foreign players). With that said, not intending to suck up, I think you’re doing a great job with the Mavs. (last time I saw a Mav game live, the three Js were still there).

    I’m a fan of the sport and the league in general, this comment of mine might not be totally related to your lead post but what the heck.

    “To just let them play” is a ridiculous notion. I’m not trying to be an elitist but that sounds like an invitation to “play dirty” to me, and people like you gotta protect your (most valuable) investments, i.e.: the Dirks or the Kobes of the league.

    A ‘funny’ take by Larry Brown on this article about extra points for layups ….. not seriously taking it, but found it funny nevertheless.

    My humble takes on our national team (post Athens):

    And finally, any big moves planned for the Mavs. before mid-season? (any slight truth on the Kidd rumors?)


    Comment by Sleepless in San Francisco -

  47. Yup. And Devon Harris is doing a great defensive job with this new rule. That guy is balls to the wall every night.

    Comment by pooof -

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