SFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Until the Redeem Team's triumph in Beijing, one of the myriad excuses used for the decline of U.S. basketball hegemony was the difference between American and international rules.
Since the 1950s, the international game has employed a trapezoidal lane and shallow 3-point line, fostering a game based on finesse and perimiter shooting. By contrast, the rectangular, 16-foot-wide lane in U.S. rules allows for a more bruising contest between big men in the paint, where size is at a premium.
Much like the metric system, the United States had long been the outlier. (Though not as far out as North Korea where reportedly slam dunks are worth 3 points and missed free throws result in the loss of a point.) But in 2010, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) will enact new rules bringing the international game largely in line with its American cousin. The U.S. team, of course, is pleased:
“I think it’s going back to our roots and will be more of an advantage
to us,” said Tony Ronzone, USA Basketball’s director of international
player personnel. He added, “It will help us and our game in
I never understood why the FIBA rules were different in the first place. While it undoubtedly gave the world an advantage against America in international play, when foreign players came to the NBA they often suffered the reputation for being "soft" jump shooters. Hopefully, under the new rules, more international players will develop a post game and dispel that myth. Here's also hoping the universal rules abet further instances of roundball diplomacy.