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Should the NBA Introduce a 4-Point Line?

| December 16, 2018 12:00 am PDT
NBA 4-Point Line

The 3-point field goal has seen much drama since its NBA inception back in 1979. At first, almost every coach and athlete considered it a nuisance.

Players liked to go to the rim as much as possible back then. Shooting from a distance was very rare and viewed as risky.

It comes as no surprise that the initial reaction to the 3-point line was skeptical.

Back in the ‘70s, they still followed the golden rule in basketball – pound the ball inside. With the implementation of the 3-point line, they had to designate shooters and have other players get the ball to them as much as possible.

It was hard for players to adjust. It took them quite a while to grasp the concept.

Making the right decision wasn’t easy when they were accustomed to playing without a 3-point line. Some of the players had to put in years of hard work to develop the range.

One of the biggest critics of the decision was the legendary coach and president of the Boston Celtics “Red” Auerbach.

He was so opposed to it that he frequently called it a gimmick and a marketing trick. Red was convinced that it would irreparably damage the game and make it boring.

To the surprise of many, iconic 3-point shooter Larry Bird was in the same boat. He confesses that at the time, most players agreed with Auerbach.

Bird was a rookie when the decision was made by the NBA. Not only that, but he was viewed as the savior of a franchise gone stagnant.

The Celtics were so bad back then that they had lost 100 games the previous two seasons. People were starting to doubt that Auerbach could turn things around. His only hope was that Bird would be able to transform them.

Along with fellow rookie Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers, Larry Bird was the reason fans were excited about the 1979-1980 season. The 3-pointer was barely mentioned.

Perhaps people thought that if they ignored it, it would go away. As we now know well, nothing of the sort happened.

The line is here to stay, and it has become a focal point of any successful NBA team. But it is time for another evolution and the introduction of a FOUR-point line?

Let’s first look at how it all started for the 3-pointer and how it went from being a divisive gimmick to one of the main weapons.

How the 3-Point Line Began

It’s safe to say that nobody under the age of 30 has any memories of watching basketball without a 3-point line. However, basketball was played without it for a long time.

The American Basketball League started using the 3-point line in 1961. In those days, the 3-pointer was new to most basketball players and fans. A few college teams had experimented with it, even as early as 1945, but the NCAA wasn’t ready to take it up.

The National Basketball Association (NBA), which had been established in 1946, didn’t consider the 3-point line back then, either. However, the American Basketball Association (ABA) did.

The ABA differed a lot from the NBA. It was much more open to experiments and fan interaction. They had all this exciting stuff such as the red, white, and blue basketball, and slam dunk contests. It was their decision to start using the 3-point in line in 1967 that ultimately popularized it.

Their commissioner was a big proponent of the shot.  He used to call the 3-pointer the home run of basketball. While it may sound cheesy to some, it definitely played a part in helping the 3-point line grab mainstream attention.

Once that happened, it was only a matter of time until basketball would be changed forever.

In 1976, the ABA and NBA merged. Four iconic franchises transferred to the NBA – the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, New York Nets, and the Indiana Pacers.

The 3-point shot wasn’t part of the deal, though. The NBA did not budge and decided to keep the game’s traditions at this point.

However, the somewhat inevitable introduction of the shot in the NBA eventually came in 1979.

How the 3-Point Line Changed the Game

The 3-point line continues to change the sport to this day.

Players are becoming more and more efficient at it. The NCAA even continuously increases the distance to the basket as players are simply able to shoot it.

With a few exceptions in the ‘90s, the NBA has not moved the line too much. Currently, it stands at 23.75 feet or 7.24 meters from the basket.

In addition to players becoming better at it, the way the shot is utilized has also evolved a lot.

Everyone watching an NBA game now will see plenty of fast breaks ending with 3-point attempts. It wasn’t always the case.

Old-school coaches wouldn’t want you to take that shot in transition. They would advocate challenging the defense in order to get an easier chance to score.

Modern-day players are more than willing to pass up a layup chance when driving to the basket. Instead, they look wide for their 3-point shooter.

There is much debate whether this is a winning formula, but it has become a big trend in the NBA.

One thing that has definitely been revolutionized with the 3-point line is the utilization of smaller players.

Whereas size was a huge factor in the past, the 3-pointer gives smaller teams a big leveler.

The “bigs” have a totally different role on the court, and they would rarely even consider throwing a 3-point shot.

More than anything, though, regular 3-point shooting has made basketball a totally different game for the fans.

The offensive intensity and shooting from a distance are keeping people on the edge of their seats more than ever. At least, far more than it did during the ‘60s.

So, is it time to complement the trend even further? It looks like the 3-point line proved to be a hit overall and is now a mainstay in basketball. Can a 4-point line achieve the same success?

Let’s look at the potential pros and cons.

What Would a 4-Point Line Bring to the NBA?

Introducing the line is not a new idea. However, it has gained steam lately for one apparent reason – Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Yes, there are plenty of other sharpshooters out there, but Curry is out of this world. When he has the ball, a thirty-foot shot suddenly turns to something normal.

So, should the NBA give players like Steph even more advantage?

The benefits of a 4-point line are obvious. A bigger reward for shooting from a greater distance will encourage the good players to try their luck more often.

I reckon it will have an overall positive effect on the modern-day fan as well. After all, people have grown accustomed to fast-paced and exciting games. An innovation of this sort can take things even further.

The simple fact of the matter is that people like to see players shoot from long range – especially on fast breaks and in clutch moments.

Player shooting ability is getting better and better as youth coaches like to follow the NBA trends. I can’t deny that it’s a joy to watch a 19-year-old rookie knocking down 3s like it’s no big deal.

However, I think the 4-point line may be pushing things a little too much.

People are already saying that shooting from a distance is damaging other parts of the basketball game. Reggie Miller has expressed concerns that kids can’t shoot the smaller distances now.

It is true that young talents are now looking up to players like Curry, James Harden, and Klay Thompson. 3-point shooting has made the small guard a valuable asset.

This is great and serves as an excellent promo for the NBA. No matter the size, everyone can be a successful professional player!

I feel like pushing further in this direction can harm the sport, though. There is a natural balance achieved with the 3-point line, which has helped produce one of the most iconic moments and long-distance shooters.

It has even changed the minds of its biggest critics and is now a wholesome part of a good mixed strategy.

Although it will be awesome to see Steph Curry knock down 4-pointers, who else can make that shot on a regular basis?

Klay Thompson and James Harden fall in that bracket. Possibly Damian Lillard and Chris Paul.

These are all established players who are among the top in the NBA. Even Kyle Korver, who is one of the most successful 3-point shooters in history, does not have that range.

It seems to me that rewarding long-range shooting more will heavily favor the superstars. Is it right to bring something in that will only benefit a select group of players?

Wrapping It Up

Introducing a 4-point line will undoubtedly change the game. If the NBA makes the decision to use it, it will probably go down as it did with the 3-pointer in 1979.

At first, there will be general skepticism until players learn to shoot better from there. However, unlike the 3-point shot, I feel it can distort the balance.

If the league has a serious intent to go down that route, they will need to be very careful. Of course, a big part of making the decision will be the marketing aspect.

The NBA could be the first league to do it, and that will get people buzzing. Generally, I’m not against new rules and regulations.

I think this season’s decision to reset the clock to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound will be very effective going forward.

However, a 4-point line will, in my opinion, thrust the sport and youth coaching into a whole new realm.

In any case, it is a big decision for NBA management. They have to decide whether any potential benefits of a 4-point line are worth risking the organic balance of the game for.

Be sure to check out our blog for more expert analysis on the NBA!

Elias Wagner

Elias Wagner has been a soccer fan since he was a young boy. He still has a huge passion for the sport itself as well as betting on it and writing about it.

Outside of soccer, Elias also enjoys other sports including basketball, tennis, and snooker. He's been writing for GamblingSites.com since 2018.

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