Examining NBA Terminology

Written by Posted On Friday, 17 June 2022 00:00

Of course, I’ve been watching the National Basketball Association playoffs these days, but I find myself confused with the game that Dr. James Naismith created in 1891. Much has changed – we no longer use peach baskets to throw the ball into. And those “basketballs” were much different from the ones we use now, 29 1/2 inches in circumference, which of course today’s players can grip with one hand!

“Above the rim” — Today’s game is played above that “peach basket” which is now 10 feet from the floor. Players today, many of whom are easily above 6-6 and others over 7-feet tall, can dunk the ball as they hang onto that peach basket. Dunking the ball was never legal in my day or even in Lew Alcindor’s (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) days in college as it is permissible in today’s game – at all levels.

“On the floor” — Observing that in almost every transition (that is the terminology for what used to be called the fast break) one or more players end up on the floor. It seems to happen all too often – mostly under the basket – as those 10 players make physical contact during every play of trying to get the ball in that hoop. One former player and Hall of Famer said, “In the NBA ya gotta knock somebody down.” And they do! I’ve heard Lombardi say that many times: but that was football, not basketball.

“Cutting players” — This is to mean the style of play (not releasing them from the team). As teams use the “pick and roll” to screen off a defender that defender grabs the offensive player preventing him from separating himself from his opponent. Grabbing your opponent seems to happen away from the action of the ball. Those three officials are often screened out because of the size of the players.

“Running with the ball” — This is more commonly called “traveling.” In the NBA it is seldom called as a violation. It is understandable since these over-large players have a difficult time gathering themselves while moving at such rapid speeds. Taking three or four steps with the ball gains a great advantage over his opponent

“Don’t foul the 3-point shooter” — It too often results in a 4-point play.

Space does not permit me to cover all the difficulties occurring in today’s game but suffice it to say that whatever happens on the NBA court tends to be followed by college and school-boy games – good or bad. While NBA players may not realize it, their importance to the future of basketball is with them!

Will you log in your impression of today’s NBA game?

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Dr. Jim Tunney

Jim Tunney had an exemplary career in sports. A former high school coach, teacher, principal and district superintendent, he had a 40-year career in officiating football and basketball.

Thirty-one of those years he was an NFL Referee working a record twenty-nine post-season games including four Super Bowls, ten NFC/AFC Championship games, six Pro Bowls and twenty-five Monday Night Games.

He officiated some of the most memorable games in NFL history. His book Impartial Judgment: “The Dean of NFL Referees” Calls Pro Football As He Sees It, chronicles his NFL career.

As a Professional Speaker, he is Past President of The National Speakers Association and a Charter Member of its most prestigious group – The CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame. Jim holds every professional designation of the NSA, including the Oscar of Professional Speaking – The Cavett. NSA named him Philanthropist of the Year in 2007.

Dr. Tunney (a doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California) continues to serve his community as  Trustee Emeritus of both Monterey Peninsula College and York School; where he once served as Headmaster. In 1993, he founded the Jim Tunney Youth Foundation to support local community programs that develop leadership, work skills, wellness and self-esteem in youth. He and his wife Linda live in Pebble Beach, California. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren.

As an author he has written and/or co-authored thirteen books: Impartial Judgment, Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul, Speaking Secrets of the Masters, You Can Do It!, Super Bowl Sunday, Insights into Excellence, Lessons in Leadership, Build a Better You and his most recent book, It’s the Will, Not the Skill.

If you are looking for a keynote speaker who educates, motivates and entertains with a lifetime of stories about leadership, team building and sports 831-595-3258.


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