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Because of Perkins' Goaltending Non-Call in Game 1, NBA Considers Adopting International Goaltending Rules

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Via Yahoo! Sports' Ball Don't Lie:

Remember when I posted about how Kendrick Perkins' tip shot at the end of Game 1 was ruled Goaltending?

And do you remember that I said the following?

But the NBA should do what it can to make it so that as little as possible is left up to interpretation. And the offensive goaltending rule is one of the hardest rules to judge. The basket is usually the farthest thing on the court from the refs, and the play happens in a split second. It's easy to criticize the refs non-call when looking at the situation from afar and through a slow-motion high-definition camera, but actually being on the floor in the midst of the action is an entirely different situation. In fact, I'm usually surprised at how good of a job the refs do.

Thus, my solution is as follows: Get rid of the offensive goaltending rule. International basketball doesn't follow that rule, and it hardly affects games at all. You get a few more tip-in dunks per game, and that's about it. Plus, international basketball is doing several things to accommodate the NBA and make their game closer to a NBA style of basketball. So why not return the favor in a small way? It would do nothing but generate a few more highlights and and bring good press abroad.

Well, guess what? The NBA is now considering adopting the international rule. Additionally, I am letting my inner Jim Traber out and giving it up to myself big time. Don't like it? Well, too bad. I'm the guy who always predicts a 16 to 1 upset in his March Madness bracket and the guy who predicted the Portland Trail Blazers would reach the NBA Finals this year. So, I'll take my small victories where I can.

If you're unclear on what the international rule is, then let me explain. This does not make it legal to goaltend in the traditional sense. That is, you still cannot block a shot when it is in a downward motion towards the rim. So all of those Ibaka swats that were barely ruled invalid by referees this season would still remain invalid under this rule.

But, once the ball hits the rim, it is fair game. So if Kevin Durant clanks a jumper off of the back of the rim and it hovers there for a little bit, Ibaka has the right to slam it right back in, no matter where his hand or the ball might be. In turn, the defending player also has the ability to scoop that ball up for a rebound above the rim, wherever that may be.

Confused? Here's some video aides:

Below: Video Aides, Analysis on What the New Rule Might Mean for the NBA!

To be clear, THIS is still goaltending:

But THIS (and Perkins' basket in Game 1) would now be considered a valid dunk:

There is no tangible proof that the rule change was directly a result of Perkins' goaltending call, but it is strongly implied given the controversy surrounding it. We don't know as of yet whether the change will be put in place, but it will be discussed and voted on by the owners this off-season. Should the new rule be approved, it would presumably be instituted next season.

There's inevitably going to be some skepticism towards this new rule. Won't it just lead to the Dwight Howards of the world dominating around the rim? Why change the call because the refs didn't make the right call in one game? But, in my opinion, the skepticism is unfounded. The rule hardly ever comes into play over the course of an NBA basketball game, and it is rarely utilized in the Euroleague or International basketball. You could make the case that players in international basketball are less athletic, but I've seen some of the NBA's best talent play internationally, having watched the entirety of Team USA's 2008 Olympic and 2010 FIBA World Championship runs. And the rule difference results in maybe a couple more baskets or rebounds here or there, at most. Even against terrible teams, like Tunisia and Iran.

Why? You might, validly, make the case that the NBA players weren't prepared to take advantage of the international rule. But they have taken advantage of it on occasion, so they are highly aware of the rule difference. It's just a difficult move to pull off, like a alley-oop or a dazzling reverse layup. You have to be in the right position at the right time, and the ball has to bounce a certain way on the rim.

Kelly Dwyer, who wrote the article I linked to for the news story, contends that it would radically change the NBA game over the course of a few years:

Apologies for going in this direction, but the NBA is a more athletic league than you're typical FIBA-based organization. Players are bigger, they jump higher, and they're steadied around the rim more often than their international counterparts. Toss in a few years worth of practice as players get used to taking shots off the rim, and you'd have field goal percentages dropping significantly as players learn to do this every other time down court. Just as it currently is with the charge calls that "defenders" can ably rely on as they run underneath someone who has jumped in the air, or the old illegal defense calls that Stern had to adjust for a decade ago.

Basically, he states the potential arguments I described above, but he claims that the rule will lead to players grabbing way too many rebounds off of the rim. Before this goes any further, let me ask a rhetorical question. How often do you see a shot hang on the rim? It just doesn't happen a whole lot. Shots either fall or clank off of the side of the rim. Usually, a shot only hangs on the rim when a player botches a layup. It's not as if the shot sits on the rim every other attempt, waiting to get snatched up by a tall center or otherwise falling in. Furthermore, Euroleague players are athletic too. Check out this highlight video from a couple of years ago. What separates the NBA from the Euroleague isn't pure athleticism and size. Rather, it's a different play style that both leagues are working to make closer together, and a slightly lower skill level. There are guys like Harold Miner and Gerald Green who are extremely athletic, yet not very good at other facets of the game. Thus, there are some athletic big men floating around Europe, and they don't dominate the game simply because they can grab the ball off of the rim.

If you couldn't tell already, I'm largely in favor of this rule change. It leaves less wiggle room for the referees to get their calls wrong, and it allows for guys like Perkins to nab another well-earned buckets here or there. But, the bottom line is that it doesn't really matter if the rule is changed or not. Overall, it will affect the game very little. I am mostly for the change because it will help bring the International game and the NBA game closer together, while making calls on the floor more concrete. Nothing but a win-win, in my opinion.

But, what do you think about the proposed rule change? Vote in the poll, post a comment!