But the NBA has to try it.
This morning, The New Yorker published a story online about a possible four-point shot in basketball. Because they’re The New Yorker, it’s very thoughtfully written, and they managed to get Reggie Miller and Larry Bird—two of the greatest long-distance shooters in NBA history—to weigh in. Miller is against it. He laughs at the idea and calls it a gimmick.
The four-point line could be an awesome addition to the game, or it could be the worst thing the league ever tried. Nobody knows yet because it hasn’t been attempted.
Bird, on the other hand, seemed up for whatever, saying, “When I played, I never did practice three-point shots. But these kids here, that’s all they do. The game has changed, no question about it. Every ten, twelve, fifteen years, there’s something new coming in. You put that four-point line in there and people will start practicing. And once they start practicing, they get better at it. Maybe five or ten years down the road, fours are what everybody will be shooting. The game evolves.”
For the record, current NBA marksman Kyle Korver is also in on the idea, according to The New Yorker.
The most fascinating tidbit from the piece, though, is this juicy nugget: Two years ago, NBA executives discussed adding a four-point line to its courts.
That means this thing really could have legs.
Here’s my take: The four-point line could be an awesome addition to the game, or it could be the worst thing the league ever tried. Nobody knows yet because it hasn’t been attempted. So the league needs to experiment with the four-pointer and see how it goes. Where should they do this experimenting? The annual NBA All-Star game would be a good place. It would be fun to watch and there are no actual “stakes” in the game. (The winner doesn’t get home-court advantage like the winner does in MLB, for example.) But that wouldn’t be much of a sample size.
The better laboratory for the four-pointer? The NBA’s D-League. Pretty much since it began, the D-League has struggled with attendance and fan interest. What better way to increase both than to introduce a four-pointer? I would certainly be much more eager to try to find D-League games on my TV’s cable plan. I might even attempt to find my way to Westchester so I could watch a Westchester Knicks game in person. Imagine current Westchester Knick Jimmer Fredette with a green light to fire away from four-point land. I would pay to see that. (Well, as long as it was $20 or less.)
By instituting the four-point shot in the D-League, the NBA could see how players, teams, coaches and fans treat the thing. Maybe they would use it 20 times per game. Maybe they’d use it twice. Maybe some teams would use it a ton and other teams wouldn’t use it at all. That would be kind of fun. Suddenly different D-League teams would have different identities that fans could embrace.
The D-League could also tinker with the length of the shot—maybe start it eight feet behind the three-point line with the flexibility to move it in or out depending on how often (or little) it’s being used. (There’s no real room for it near the baseline, but a line originating at the sideline, maybe near the extension of the free-throw line, could work well.)
And if they try it for a few years and for whatever reason it sucks—nobody uses it, or it creates a lot of ugly possessions, or it turns the games into something akin to MTV’s Rock N’ Jock basketball game, which was famous for having a goofy, circus-style 25-point shot—they can always scrap it. But it’s definitely worth a shot.
To use basketball parlance, no harm, no foul.
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