The game has changed. “Back when I played, we didn’t shoot [threes] that much. Now, hell, if you’re not firing up thirty 3s, you’re just not playing basketball,” said NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird Professional basketball, over 70 years, has developed so much that if you saw clips from the 60’s you would think it’s a different sport.
The three-point line was introduced in the NBA 1979, although its first appearance was in the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1967. After the fall of the ABA, the two leagues decided to merge, and the three point line had officially arrived. In the beginning, players didn’t really get used to the idea that they could take a shot further away from the paint and get an extra point, so it was widely ignored. Years later, players such as Larry Bird made the longshots a killer that could demoralize the opposition. In today’s NBA, statistical analysis has pushed teams to shoot more three pointers than ever before, while the mid-range shot has all but disappeared. Also even big men started to shoot threes. Dirk Nowizki changed the game by making consistent three pointer, which is crazy because he is a 7 footer that weighed around 240 pounds. You would think he was going to use his strength in the post most of the time, instead he started to step-back mid range and even fade away. It wasn’t just for a couple of games, he was consistently making those incredible shots. Also it was unguardable because he was so tall and with his arc only a 7 footer could stop him.
Introduced in 1954, the shot clock dramatically increased the pace of the game. Instead of passing around and waiting for the clock to run out, players would have a short amount of time to score. This led to high scoring games, and a lot of fast-break points. The best team in the 1950s and 1960s were the Boston Celtics, who used their defensive skills to get the steal and quickly score a bucket on the break. Although the rule may make the players more tired, it definitely does keep us entertained.
No hand/forearm/body checking
Another rule that drastically changed the way defense is played was the gradual eradication of hand and forearm checking in 1999. In the 90’s, the Detroit Pistons were the “Bad Boys” of the league, notorious for their physically aggressive defence, making hard fouls, starting fights and even severely injuring their opponents. The NBA tried to reduce the amount of fights after a physical play by eliminating defensive contact with the arms and hands, forcing defenders to raise their arms and only use their chest to defend when the opposing player is driving to the paint. The league also added the “reach-in foul,” where a defender tries for a steal but contacts the opponent instead. These changes helped stem the tide towards a more brutish style of play, keeping basketball truer to the idea of an agility-based, non-contact sport.
Overall, basketball has seen drastic changes since Kareem Abdul Jabar, Wilt Chamberlain and even Michael Jordan. Basketball as a whole has become a faster, more spaced-out game that emphasizes outside shooting, speed and teamwork. The league will continue to change into the years, and it’s up to the players to keep up.