Posted by Royce Young
The NBA uses the D-League as a place for young players to work on their game, build up a reputation and at some point, maybe have a chance to be called to the professional level. And the same goes for new rules.
Sometimes, the D-League is used as a place to experiment with new rules to see how they operate in a live professional basketball game. And that's what will happen this season, as the famous FIBA goaltending rule will be brought over to the D-League.
A refresher in case you forgot: The FIBA goaltending rule basically says that once the ball hits the iron, it can be knocked off. In the NBA, if the ball is in the "cylinder" it has to be left there until it either falls off the rim or bounces in. But now, players can jump up and clear the ball off the rim.
As Scott Schroeder of FanHouse mentioned, these rule changes are rumored to have been a request from the NBA as an experiment, possibly similar to the D-League's testing of a new, synthetic basketball before its official use in the NBA for the 2006-2007 season. The new basketball didn't make it very long though in the NBA as NBA commissioner David Stern brought back the traditional leather basketball less than halfway into the season because of complaints from players.
This isn't the first time the NBA has tried this though. The goaltending rule was altered in the D-League in 2005, but that change only lasted one year. Schroeder surmises this change is a response by the NBA to FIBA's institution of a few new NBA-like rules into FIBA internernational play. Secretary general of FIBA, Patrick Baumann, made a comment prior to the World Championships about hoping for the goaltending rule change to come over. And it looks like David Stern gave him his wish. At least in the D-League.
So what to make of the rule change? Most people love the FIBA goaltending rule because it makes for an exciting moment when a player realizes the ball has bounced two or three times and he goes up and clears it. It's like the basketball equivalent of robbing someone of a home run. Though in the NBA where players are far more athletic, it might be difficult for the rule to be as successful because of the nature of playing above the rim. What if the score drops dramatically? What if it slows the game down because of the extra whistles? Or what if there's an extremely controversial call in a big game?
The rule is great in international play because it's kind of this kitschy, but unique rule that adds in interesting dynamic to the FIBA games. But I'm not so sure that it'll work for 82 games a year in the NBA. But hey, that's why they're trying it out in the D-League first.