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Eric Freeman

The NBA wants to speed up games by blowing more horns

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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Basketball fans would like to see many improvements to the NBA game: there's not enough parity, teams don't have enough ways to hang on to their superstars, and franchises can move without exploring all legitimate avenues to stay in their current cities. By far, though, the biggest complaint is that games take too long. I mean, with all that waiting around for free throws and TV breaks, it's a wonder anyone can ever find the time to watch a basketball game. Just give us the dunks, please!

Thankfully, the NBA has heard the cries and wants to help. Their brilliant solution: more horns during timeouts. From the Associated Press:

The league's scoreboard operators have been told to sound warning horns during breaks in the action in an effort to cut down on the length of games. According to a courtsideIt's hard to believe memo Tuesday night at the Detroit Pistons' game against the Houston Rockets, games have been taking longer, "largely due to prolonged delays after breaks."

NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed to The Associated Press that the new protocol went into effect Tuesday night. Memos outlined new procedures for locally telecast games, including warning horns to be sounded shortly before the ends of timeouts and breaks between periods.

Those warning horns are to be followed by final horns ending those breaks, and referees are directed to make sure huddles break promptly.

It's a wonder this protocol wasn't in place before, but it's also hard to keep track of horns when you're busy watching the home team's cheerleaders or praying to a higher power that the Kiss Cam doesn't fall upon you and your friend-but-maybe-eventually-something-more. Wait, did I just reveal too much of myself? I'm sorry, it won't happen again.

I haven't noticed much difference between the length of games over the last two days and those before the All-Star break, which should tell you something about how effective this change have been. Like most new NBA rules, it's likely to become even more lax over time, so don't expect games to fly by for the foreseeable future. In fact, this new rule seems to have a lot in common with David Stern's annual preseason rule announcement that gets a lot of publicity and ends up petering out entirely by December.

Maybe Stern decided the added horns weren't even worth announcing in the preseason, because the fact of the matter is that they're not very necessary. At most, this change will trim a few minutes off games (and certainly not more than 10) -- not enough to bring in new fans or make old ones think that the game isn't as delightfully deliberate as it used to be. Unlike football and baseball, basketball that thrives on continuous action. If the league really wanted to speed games up, they'd tell referees to call fewer fouls, not institute more horns.

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