Recently I was reading an old article by Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, entitled “More on USA Basketball,” (not to be confused with, “Moron USA Basketball”) ;-).
In this article, Mark Cuban focuses most of his propositions at the NBA — which isn’t surprising since he owns an NBA franchise. However, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail,” (Abraham Maslow).
I’m sorry, Mark, but I would hate to see NBA basketball adopt international rules, and I believe most fans would as well. That is not the answer.
Mr. Cuban is right, though, in that international players do struggle to adapt to the NBA when they get there. But then again, so do college students. The difference is, at some point, the NBA’s international players will get to reuse their former game skills as they represent their countries during the summer in international competitions, whereas former collegiate players will NEVER be called upon to revert to their former NCAA game skills to represent their former schools.
Which begs the question: what on earth is the NCAA doing?
The NBA obviously sees the NCAA its primary labor pool, and judging by the way the NCAA has become a strange brew of high school and NBA basketball, it appears the NCAA regards itself as the NBA farm league as well. For example, the NCAA’s three point line is the same as the high school line, and its court size is the same as the NBA’s. But why? Why does the NCAA have its own private variation of the game of basketball?
The NCAA’s perplexing perspective of its role in basketball has caused it to create a world unto itself, a world that insists on being oblivious to how basketball is played the world over, and is doing no one any favors — particularly USA basketball.
The vast majority of college basketball players will never play in the NBA, therefore the NCAA needs to shift its focus away from being the transition between high school and the NBA, and instead educate college athletes on how the game is played around the world.
Again, the NCAA is doing basketball no favors by insisting on its own private adaptation of the game, and it needs to commit to conforming more closely to international rules.
Once accustomed to a system, returning to it isn’t that difficult. Yao Ming, Leandro Barbosa, Manu Ginobli, Dirk Nowitsky, etc. seem to have no problems moving between both the NBA and FIBA’s international basketball. In fact, they all speak both dialects fluently and are the basketball equivalent of being bilingual.
If the NCAA game were to closely conform to the international game, the 1 to 5 years NBA players will spend in college would effectively help Team USA to be drastically more basketball bilingual as well.
Which reminds me of an old joke. What do you call someone who speaks 3 languages? Trilingual. What do you call someone who speaks 2 languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who speaks just 1 language? American. Unfortunately, thanks to the NCAA, the same is true of USA basketball.