As the tournament has progressed, I've begun questioning more and more why there are rule differences between FIBA, which runs the world championships, and the sport I grew up playing here. Chris Sheridan at ESPN did a good job of breaking down many of the rules differences, but the major ones include a smaller ball size, a trapezoidal lane, a shorter court, and a shorter 3-point line. The question that kept resonating with me was why are there so many differences?
the international courtApparently I wasn't the only one. Last week, John Hollinger, he of the Pro Basketball Forecast, noted,
Another problem reared its head at the line, where the Americans made only 19-of-34.This has been a problem all tournament, and probably has to do with the slightly smaller ball used in FIBA play. It's not as much of a problem when the team is running and dunking, but just enough of a difference to throw them off on a finely calibrated maneuver like the free-throw stroke. (This also might be a good time for a rant on why, exactly, FIBA insists on using such different rules for a game that was invented and played here for half a century before anyone else picked it up. Can you imagine if the World Baseball Classic had used a different ball, changed the strike zone, and had the bases arranged in a trapezoid instead of a diamond?)
Indeed, John, exactly my thoughts and a fair query. And I haven't been able to find answers.
Wikipedia only notes a ball size change in 1935. How did the FIBA and NBA balls end up different? Is it an anti-USA move on FIBA's part? I wonder too, does the different ball size actually affect shooting? One would expect the difference to show up in other NBA-players on non-US teams (for outside shots and FT's). Or does the ball being smaller actually mean shots go in more easily (smaller ball to rim circumference ratio)? And most importantly, is there a movement afoot to standardize the rules?
the international ball in action
Unable to find an answer I was content with, I emailed the premier pro basketball blog in the world, TrueHoop, to see what I might be able to find out there. So now, finding my question posted there, we shall see if an answer is to be had. Where from have the differences arisen?