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Ball Don't Lie

In a move nobody asked for, the NBA is ‘cracking down’ on taking too long to get to the opening tip after intros

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

LeBron James counts down from 90 (Getty Images)

The NBA hasn't decided to limit the amount of TV timeouts it adds to games. It hasn't curtailed the lengthy player introductions that take place before contests, and it's certainly not going to reduce those extended halftimes that take place during the nationally televised NBA Finals. Unclear about a possession? The NBA still is going to take what feels like an hour and a half to set up a jump ball, following a scrum.

But should you dare to take too long to get to the game-starting tip at center court after those 47-minute player introductions? Boy howdy, are you going to be in TROU-BLE.

Because the NBA has decided to start penalizing players who take longer than 90 seconds to get to their marks around center court following introductions, a completely necessary move instituted because these games were disintegrating to the point of lawlessness just because point guards were giving fist bumps to assistant coaches and scorekeepers, and taking too long to scrape the dust from their sneaker soles. ESPN's Brian Windhorst follows up:

The guideline will eliminate or severely cut down on the routines that players from most teams go through before games, which often include a series of handshakes with their own teammates before greeting opponents. It also could legislate out individual rituals like LeBron James' famous chalk toss, which he abandoned last season during the playoffs, though James said he'll try to get it done in the limited time.

"I won't change it, I'll be able to work it in," James said. "We'll figure it out."

There will be a clock that counts to 90, and a 30-second warning. A violation of that rule means that a team is assessed a delay of game penalty, and two delay of game penalties (an occurrence that happened in a game last year, I believe, negative 22 times. Then again, it was a shortened season) result in a lone technical free throw that could possibly be worth one point. This is a long way of saying that the penalties will have absolutely no impact, but the NBA did just earn itself a few articles on the subject, a discussion of the "rule" on "Pardon the Interruption," and more unearned exposure during the baseball postseason and NFL regular season.

In their sillier days, the Phoenix Suns (with Shaquille O'Neal) and Cleveland Cavaliers (with LeBron and Shaq) often put together small team-wide skits, performed while the announcers checked in with the sideline reporter, but overall those performances are pretty rare. Usually, the bulk of the movement comes from a head coach yelling out final orders, bench players bumping chests with the starters on their way to the center tip, and starters giving out fist bumps or slapped fives with various familiar faces on the team's press row — local announcers, team employees, et cetera.

In Chicago, the starters are asked to sign autographs for young fans at center court RIGHT BEFORE THE GAME STARTS (which is ridiculous of the Bulls to ask, right before these players are charged with going into athletic competition), a practice that will surely be outlawed because of this new rule.

See what you've done to the children, David Stern?

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A weeping nation focused its eyes on Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, that heartiest of heartlands, as the Thunder had to shorten its personal pepper.

From the Oklahoman:

"Before Tuesday night's preseason game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Thunder players noticeably rushed their routines before stepping onto the court in time for the tip. Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant was in the middle of his on-court greetings with teammates when the ball was put in play.

"I personally don't like it," Durant said of the 90-second rule. "Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don't make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don't agree with it, but I don't make the rules."

Bad jokes aside, the fans love this stuff. They eat it up. Dwyane Wade goes and speaks with them for a few seconds before tip-off of every game. For a lot of spectators, it's the last interesting thing these fans will see all night. If they're even there, at that point, struggling to get to the arena for the 7 p.m. tip, locally, after finishing a day's work. There are so many things wrong and annoying about the NBA, and this is not one of them; but that didn't stop the league as the penalized away.

Or, to be specific, called a delay of game violation that could result in the other team earning a point should they hit a free throw, should you commit another relatively rare delay of game violation later in the contest.

Throw the book at 'em, Commish.

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