SBD/October 19, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

On The Clock: NBA Will Begin Enforcing 90-Second Limit To Pregame Rituals

Durant's pregame routine will likely be cut short by the NBA's new 90-second rule
The NBA has made several rules "a point of emphasis" this season, including the decision that when pregame introductions "have concluded, teams will have 90 seconds to return to the court for the opening tip," according to John Rohde of the OKLAHOMAN. Before Tuesday night's Bobcats-Thunder preseason game, Thunder players "noticeably rushed their routines before stepping onto the court in time for the tip." Thunder F Kevin Durant "was in the middle of his on-court greetings with teammates when the ball was put in play." Durant said of the 90-second rule, "I personally don't like it. Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game" (OKLAHOMAN, 10/17). In N.Y., Howard Beck noted the 90-second window "is already in the rule book, but it is rarely enforced." The 90 seconds will "appear on the game clock and begin counting down once introductions are over." At 30 seconds, a "warning horn will sound," and at zero, players "will be expected to be ready for tip-off, or at least close." NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said the emphasis on enforcing the rule is "simply to start our games on time" (NYTIMES.com, 10/17).

CHALK OUTLINE: ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst noted the league also could "legislate out individual rituals like LeBron James' famous chalk toss, which he abandoned last season during the playoffs." James said that he will "try to get it done in the limited time." He said, "I won't change it, I'll be able to work it in. We'll figure it out" (ESPN.com, 10/18). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman noted Heat G Dwyane Wade has had "a series of pregame rituals with teammates over the years, before settling on his chin-ups and four-way salute to the crowd." Wade said, "I'll adjust. I"ll have to take something away, I'm sure. Maybe the rim." He added, "I guess everybody will figure it out" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/18).

GET ON WITH IT: ESPN's Jalen Rose, who played 13 seasons in the NBA, said, "Once it’s time for the ball to tip, we don’t necessarily need to see KG walk to the circle, then walk to the baseline thumping his chest, then walk to the baseline, hit his head on the backstop and then point to everybody in the crowd and jump center. Let’s get the game started. Let’s give the people what they want.” ESPN’s Hugh Douglas said players “are back there choreographing moves” but “nobody wants to see all that." Douglas: "You’re not a dancer, you’re not a rapper” (“Numbers Never Lie,” ESPN2, 10/18). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the enforcement is “overdue” because pregame rituals are “absurdly long right now.” Kornheiser: “People pay to watch a basketball game. If they cared to pay for handshakes and routines, they would go to Cirque de Soleil” ("PTI," ESPN, 10/17).

THE NEW NO-FUN LEAGUE? YAHOO SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer wrote the bulk of the movement prior to tipoff "comes from a head coach yelling out final orders, bench players bumping chests with the starters on their way to center tip, and starters giving out fist bumps or slapped fives with various familiar faces on the team's press row -- local announcers, team employees, et cetera." There are "so many things wrong and annoying about the NBA, and this is not one of them; but that didn't stop the league as [it] penalized away" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/17). SB Nation's Bomani Jones said, "There’s nothing wrong with this. What is such a big deal that you need to make a stink out of this?” ESPN’s Michael Smith added, “Why is everybody in such a rush? … This is a silly rule.” L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, “It wouldn’t be a big deal if everybody did it. The thing is teams use it for their strategic advantage” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 10/17). Meanwhile, ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said there is a “cultural and generational divide here where you have old white men” enacting these new rules. Le Batard: “Can it be argued that what you have happening here is they just want the black guys to knock it off?” ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 10/18).

MORE CHANGES COMING? Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski said NBA execs are enforcing the new rule because “they want to shorten the games.” The league has seen a 3-5-minute “gulf sometimes between the end of player introductions and when that jumpball goes up.” Wojnarowski noted the NBA also may “discuss further down the line in the future” about “taking a timeout away from each team during the game and even shortening overtime from five minutes to three minutes” (“NBC Sports Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 10/18).
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