Modifications that changed the face of the game
The game of basketball goes through many changes each season, both in the NBA and on the international stage. These changes are meant to improve the game, for instance through the institution of clearer rules or the mitigation of unfair advantages. Most of these changes go unnoticed, but from time to time, a modification can transform the game entirely.
Dribbling: As hard as it can be to imagine, basketball was originally designed to involve only passing and shooting to avoid excessive body contact as a result of running while in possession of the ball. Just six years after the sport’s invention, dribbling was adopted as an offensive strategy by Yale University in 1897, with players claiming that they were passing the ball to themselves. Dribbling allows the ball to be advanced up the court at a faster pace, resulting in higher scores, and is often used creatively today as both an offensive and defensive maneuver.
Jump ball: In a similar vein, the introduction of inbounds plays instead of a jump ball after every made basket in 1938 sped the game up tremendously. With the referee not having to touch the ball on every possession, teams have the opportunity to launch quick counter-attacks after being scored on, before the defense can be set up. Teams used to diagram jump ball plays, but these have since become an afterthought.
Three-point line: The NBA adopted the three-point line in 1979, although it was first introduced many decades ago. It was an unpopular change at the start, despite the intention of improved on-court spacing and more scoring opportunities for shorter players. Today, even the tallest players shoot the long ball, and it has become the de facto weapon for NBA teams, resulting in a wide-open game. Along with the three-point line, the much-widened painted area and lane violation rules have also prevented teams from simply parking hulking big men in the paint throughout the game.
All-Star Weekend: Although this is not necessarily a rule change, the introduction of the All-Star Game and its accompanying festivities in 1951 solidified the NBA’s reputation as a fan’s game. The annual event is a true spectacle of modern sports, and highlights the League’s commitment towards entertainment.