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HoopIdea: An even better game
By Royce Webb and Henry Abbott

Join us as we get going with HoopIdea, our engine for improving basketball.

The motto: Basketball is the best game ever. Now let’s make it better.

The problem: Many things in basketball exist because of rules and guidelines set up decades ago. But it’s time to rethink. As Bill Simmons wrote last week, the eight worst words in sports are "Because that's the way we've always done it."

+ More exciting
+ More fun
+ More intelligent

We want a purer form of basketball. When you play a pickup game, the game flows continuously. No one is trying to get the other team in foul trouble. No one calls a timeout. Defenders don’t worry about the restricted area, or try to take charges. No way. Players try to make plays.

That’s what we want to see: Players making plays. Great passes. Superior teamwork. Spectacular action. Strong defense. Fantastic shots. Amazing dunks.Great basketball, all the time.

+ Smarter rules that give us the game we really want
+ Continuous action that features creativity and athleticism
+ Fans on the edge of their seats, or better yet out of their seats

We want to bring alive the excitement that fans feel during the greatest games, the greatest moments. We want the bring out the best parts of the game. We want the game to be played the way it was meant to be played.

The rules have been changed before, and they will be changed again. And we want you to play a role in those changes.


You can give us your ideas and talk with us and other fans in the following places:

+ Facebook: Go to our NBA on ESPN page and talk it over
+ Twitter: Go to @HoopIdea and tweet to us with the hashtag #hoopidea
+ Google+: Go to our NBA on ESPN Google+ page and discuss
+ TrueHoop: Read our HoopIdea posts here and contribute on the conversation page
+ E-mail us at

And for the truly ambitious: Shoot a short video of yourself explaining yourHoopIdea, upload it to YouTube and share the link with us on Twitter or Google+.

That’s all there is to it. Speak up and be heard.

Henry Abbott is the ESPN senior writer who leads TrueHoop and the TrueHoop Network. Royce Webb is an NBA editor at
Kennith Leung's profile photoJason Sturgeon's profile photoElizabeth Holloway's profile photoRyan deDios's profile photo
lob pass and finish with a layup or dunk worth 3 points.
widen the court, limit play stoppages late or a continuous clock. when a team fouls, give the option of free throws or possesion. If "hacking" is involved, award both FTs and possession.
Less games works. Two a week. Healthier players means better product. Each game carries more importance. That's when football type money starts coming in for tv deals.
Also, actual home court advantage until The Finals. I'm talking 5 home games to 2.
Would love top 16 to make playoffs but doubt league has the cojones to ever try that.
I understand the idea that speeding up the end of games will make them more exciting. I disagree with the argument however that doing so is necessary. Complaining that the last two minutes of a game can take 15 minutes and people don't want that is faulty, in my opinion. Look at an NFL game, the country's most popular sport. The game lasts for three or more hours but there is only one hour of time where the ball is in play. That's better than 2:15 but it's not close to 3:1 as suggested in the Modern Family example.
To make the all star game more meaningful, whichever conference wins the all star game has home court advantage in the Finals. Similar format as MLB.
Any shot past half court counts for 4 points. Think about end game situations, coaches having to draw up plays to sink a 4pointer to tie or win. Defensively, you would be forced to cover the entire floor at the end of games. Plus, Antoine Walker could make a comeback!
Change the free throw system! The single biggest reason why I don't watch the NBA is because such a high percentage of the points are scored from a stand still as the clock is stopped! As an idea why not move to a spot foul system similar to soccer. The restart takes place from the spot of the foul and the nearest defender must be at least 5 ft. away. Also, the person that got fouled does not have to be the player responsible for the restart! While we're at it, make it two halves of basketball with no clock stoppages! Imagine drawing a foul 5 feet behind the 2 point arc and having your best shooter line up for a deep 3! Imagine the new ways to attack the hoop coming off of restarts!
Make charges count only as a turnover and not a personal foul.
Increase the Age limit by another year or if you choose to play in college you must wait three years and let the D-League draft the ones who forego college.
Only allow 12 teams to make the playoffs with the top 2 seeds in each conference getting a 1st rd bye.
Widen the court by a foot or so. It would give spot up shooters more room to work with and encourage more 3 point shooting and consequently more scoring.
Eliminate fouling out of the game. If a player exceeds 6 fouls the other team should get one shot plus possession.
Give coaches 2 challenges per game to be used on any call. That could prevent players/coaches from exploding at the refs and getting themselves thrown out.
Add arcade style four point circles in between the 3pt line and halfcourt. Both feet must be completely inside the circle to count.
Count each quarter as a "game", where you must win a best of 5. Whichever team scores the most points in a quarter wins that game. So if OKC is beating Denver 24-19 at the end of the first quarter, they win that game and are up 1-0. Then the score is reset and they play the second quarter, etc. If it's tied after 4, you play a 5th quarter. This would eliminate blowouts, and would make watching an entire game more exciting for fans.
What happens when a team wins the first 3 qtrs? Maybe if they played 5 10 minute qtrs, 5th qtr only if necessary or worth 2 or something.
The biggest change to make the game better, faster, and more enjoyable would be to revamp the foul calls. Offensive fouls are whenever you push off a guy, not just because someone slides in front of you at the least second. This should be similar to football where both players are entitled to the space. Also, throwing your body into a defender to "create" contact is not a foul on them. In fact this should be offensive as well as you are creating the impact. Also, for the love of god, please get rid of illegal defense and illegal hand-checking. Why is it illegal for a center to sit in the paint? He's defending the rim! And what's wrong with putting your hand lightly on a player to feel their movements? As long as you aren't pushing them how is it any different than putting a body on a post up?

Get rid of nonsense fouls and return the game to form and it will be better for everyone. Pickup basketball is fun because not everything is a foul. The only time (most people) call fouls is when their is legitimate contact that alters your shot and it should be no different in the NBA.
There are several things I would do to change the NBA's version of basketball. Firstly, I would adopt FIBA's basket interference definition, thus allowing any player to touch the ball once it has hit the rim. A defensive player could swat the ball away and the offensive player would be allowed to tip dunk anything that has touched the rim. Secondly, I would allow more contact from both side on the way to the basket. Defensive players would be allowed to hand check as long as there was not an aggressive push and offensive players would be allowed to hook, lower their shoulder, and clear with their off-arm. Charges would only be with-in the circle or if the defensive player is set for the time it takes to say "Varejoa flopped again." Finally too speed up the game, in the final two-minutes of each half you get 2 substitutions (excluding foul out substitutions), 1 time out, and instead of 2 foul shots, you get one worth 2 points (3 points if fouled on a three point shot that is missed; and ones are still one shot worth one point). That way the ball is always live.
Remove fouling out. If a play hits 6 fouls, give the opposing team 2 free throws and the ball. If he hits 8 fouls increase the penalty. The strategy of a game should not be to foul out the other players best players. We pay to watch them play. We want to see them. We don't want them sitting because they are in foul trouble.
Here are a few ideas:

1. Why should there be a limit to fouls. In a lot of instances it takes your best players off the floor at key times. No more foul limits outside of Flagrant fouls.
2. If a non-starter plays longer than 2 minutes and has not touched the ball, they must be substituted. This will go hand and hand with rule #1 to avoid your 11th man to be just considered unused fouls. This will also foster passing which is a lost art.
3. Get rid of illegal defense and the 3 second rule. These are stalwart rules when the league became a dunking-oriented league, but are unnecessary rules with the shooting ability at play today.
4. Ease up on the charge rules. There are guys that are experts at taking a charge, but what is more impressive, a player imposing will or a player getting the snot knocked out of himself. I argue I would rather see a poster dunk than a 5'10 guy sliding across the floor.
5. Get rid of all tip offs other than the opening tip. All jump balls should just work off of alternating possession. I would suggest that you eliminate the opening tip, but then how would all the players say hello at the beginning of the game?
more fouls equals a slower play time and less scoring. play gets more aggressive and it becomes harder to score. bad idea in my opinion
i dont get this idea of eliminating fouling out. this will do the exact OPPOSITE of speeding up the game. think about it, you have a guy who fouls constantly now because there is no harsh penalty. so then you get MORE fouls, and more boring free throws, and more clock stoppage, and on and on. i dont think you are really thinking about this. if you make each foul more valuable on the other hand, defense will have to play REAL defense, and less free throws will occur thus speeding up play.
Personally, I always liked the idea of the Trapezoid lane... spreads the game out, limits the ability of the defense to double team the post, makes the post player be a better passer and one on one defender.
I have various ideas but I'd like to stick to the one I think will make the most impact. Lengthen and widen the court. When you take the top 2% of players from the college game, you are getting the biggest, strongest, fastest from that game. Now in the NBA, that same 96 feet from college feels so much smaller because physically these players can cover that space with ease. By expanding the court size you are able to open up the court for a faster, more entertaining game.
Raise the rim, its the same concept as changing the court size. they always move the 3point line and change the paint time to go up on the rim to 11ft.
I'm not a fan of raising the rim because it screws up shooting. You either have to raise the rim for everyone including children or deal with bad shooting as players adjust to the NBA. Since players have all been raised shooting on 10 ft, you change the mechanics of their shot when raising the rim and in the end I think would have a negative overall impact on the game.
We raise the rim for kids from the age of 4 on as they grow and get stronger so their mechanics stay correct through growth and strength. This can be the same for Pro's going up a foot does not change their mechanics because of their strength and repetition the same as when you move the three point line back they still do everything the same except jump more or bend your knee's more.
I agree with Jason, leave the rim at ten feet.
The Traveling Summit. I have watched basketball everyday for probably my entire life, and I still have no idea what defines a travel. Get all the leagues together--NBA, NCAA, WNBA, FIBA, High school--lock them in a cabin for a week (I'm thinking world Economic Forum style in Davos, Switzerland) and let them define a travel.

Most importantly, ENFORCE THE RULE.
Limit the number of ref's on the court to 2, that would decrease the amount of ticky-tack fouls called. Have the third ref be the "video reviewer," watching for things like 3 pointers, 5 sec calls, charges, flops, out of bounds calls, whatever. The 3rd ref could communicate results to the floor quickly via a bluetooth headset or whatever...
Limiting the number of refs is by far the worst idea on this thread.
I agree with Matthew. They already have a ref at the table.
how about when a team score, no one on the team that just score can touch the basketball anymore and let the defensive them take the basketball baseline and start the offense.

right now, too many players try to slow down the other team's offense by throwing the ball to the ref after their team score.
Kennith, not sure if its on the books in the NBA or not but thats actually technically a rule on most levels of basketball already. Its punishable by a warning and then a Technical if it continues.

Only problem is unless you call refs out on it they will not enforce it. When I was coaching high school a few years ago we would play a fast paced game and would often successfully work over the refs about it.
+Jason Sturgeon yes, it supposed to leave the basketball alone. +NBA is not enforcing this rule and make the game so much slower.
I agree, it would be nice if they enforced it. For some reason no one seems to care. Heck back when the D'Antonio was coaching the Suns and they were known for their fast paced game, people decided that was a reason to attack the Suns for that style. For whatever reason the media/powers that be seem to prefer a half court game.
I agree with what a lot of people have said already .... make the court bigger and raise the rim. We have to adjust to the changing size of the players.
-Eliminate Defensive 3 secs violation rule... i believe they made that rule because of Shaq (since he takes up too much space)

-They should also place a Center Court Shot clock (for obvious reasons) this helps determine on instant replay (which takes forever)

-I'm gonna go out on a limb on this one, but if ever they would want to make the game faster, they should follow the example on substitutions like in hockey. They have to tweek it for basketball but it does make since if a team has the possession of the ball, they can automatically sub whomever since they already have the roster listed.

-Fouling will always be a discussion but there should be different degrees of fouls. There are alot of acting (flops) fouls compared to hard fouls. BUT then again... i never trust NBA officials...since the tim donaghy era during the Sac vs Lakers Western Conf Finals. Plus, David Stern probably has meetings with those officials on which teams or individuals should be protected or favored more than others. Ratings blah blah blah.
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