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Berry Tramel  


NBA rule changes: A little common sense prevails

by Berry Tramel Modified: July 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm •  Published: July 19, 2013

The NBA has modified some rule changes, particularly as it relates to replay. And I applaud the moves, because they are based on common sense.

I’ve been writing about college football officiating — I wrote about the new targeting enforcement for the Thursday Oklahoman, which you can read here, and about eight-man officiating crews for the Friday Oklahoman, which you can read here.

And some common sense did not prevail in college football. The new targeting penalty calls for a 15-yard penalty and automatic ejection from the game. The call is reviewable by replay — but only for the disqualification. The 15-yard penalty still stands, no matter what, even if replay shows the call to be incorrect.

What kind of sense does that make? I fully under limiting replay. You can’t look at every call and every play. But when you do stop the game and review a play, why would you not wipe out the call being reviewed, if it’s not correct? I don’t get it.

The NBA did not go down that illogical path. Here are the rule changes approved Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors:

* When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will now be permitted to reverse a charge call, or uphold a blocking call, when the defender was outside the restricted area but was not set when the offensive player began his upward shooting motion.

In other words, if the officials check to see if the defender was inside the restricted area on a charge call, but they find out it wasn’t really charging, they can reverse the call.

I like that. The primary problem with replay review is game stoppage. But if you’ve already stopped the game, might as well get it right.

A key element in this rule — and my college football example — is that they are only concentrating on the play in question. In a football play, you could look at three dozen different incidents. But NBA refs are looking at one specific thing — block or charge.

* Replay may now be used to determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.

I’m not as crazy about this rule. It grants additional stoppage in play. That’s a slippery slope. The only redeeming characteristic is these plays are rare.

* During the review of any instant replay situation, officials are permitted to assess the appropriate penalties of any unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts (e.g. flagrant fouls) that are observed during the instant replay reviews.

This is OK. Again, no extra stoppage. But if the refs are checking on the charge/block, for instance, and they Metta World Chaos elbow James Harden, they can tack on a flagrant foul.

* On clear path to the basket fouls, it will no longer be considered a clear path foul if at any point before the foul is committed, the defender who commits the foul is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.

I have no idea if this will help. Clear path fouls are either obvious or they are so close, nobody has any idea which way the refs will fall. It’s a coin toss.

* A team on offense will lose possession if its player leaves the floor and does not immediately return to the floor, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

I have to plead ignorance. Are NBA players not returning to the court? Are they ordering a beer? Flirting with the girl in the tight skirt? Kibitzing with Jeff Van Gundy? I haven’t seen a lot of delays.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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