As the NCAA tournament moves on toward the Final Four, fans may take note of the inordinate three-point shooting attempts. For example, top-seeded Duke lived by the triple, and against Arizona in the Sweet 16, died by the triple. It's not good for the game. Please allow me to offer an example.
In safekeeping, I store a videotape of Michigan State great Earvin "Magic" Johnson. He's a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers. It's Game 6 of the NBA finals against Dr. J and the Philadelphia 76ers, but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is out with a bum ankle.
Need I repeat the legendary story? Well, for the sake of the younger folks, I will do so. Magic to played all five positions and put up 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. The Lakers won the crown, with Kareem back home in L.A., with a shocking 123-107 victory. Of course, being an MSU fan made me a Magic fan, and so I was rooting for the Lakers.
One thing that is highly notable in viewing this game, other than the short shorts of the time, is that this was the first season for the NBA to adopt the three-point line. And yet nobody was shooting threes --- not Magic's teammate Jamaal Wilkes, who also was red-hot in that game; not the Sixers' Henry Bibby, father of current three-point marksman Mike Bibby. Nary a three-pointer was attempted in the entire game. The teams simply worked within the flows of their offenses.
Nowadays, players shoot three-pointers all the time. I understand that the three-point line is intended to open up the game, to force defenses to guard the outside area rather than simply circling their wagons under the basket, but overall I see a detriment. Most baskets are scored either from way outside, or right at the basket. We see few quality mid-range shooters today in the mold of the Detroit Pistons' Rip Hamilton.
College ball adopted the three-point line later, in 1986. (Michigan State fans can only imagine how sharpshooter Scott Skiles, who graduated earlier that year, would have been even more dominant if his long-range bombs had counted for three points rather than a mere two.) The college line is far closer than the NBA line. Watching the NCAA tournament, a typical team attempts triples, appropriately enough, on about one-third of their shots.
Bobby Knight, the ultimate fundamentalist, once remarked that if any basket should be worth three points, it should be a dunk or layup, as a result of perfect offensive execution. In the modern game, a team often tries a triple when the shot clock is expiring, or when a long rebound bounces out. Luck becomes a greater factor.
I know it never will happen, but I'd love to see a season, or even just one game, sans the three-point line.
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