The three-point shot, a shot clock, and ditching the jump ball after every basket once appeared anathema to basketball purists. But the sport evolves, and if it can add a point for long-range shots why can’t it add one more point for really, really long range shots?
That’s what TrueHoopsTV’s Henry Abbott wondered aloud to NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn and vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe. Their discussion of hypotheticals has led to very real coverage of the idea of a four-point shot.
The National Basketball Association denies that the league ever gave serious consideration to a four-point shot and a more expansive court. “No one at the NBA, nor the competition committee, has had any serious conversations about increasing the size of the floor or adding a 4-point line,” NBA senior vice president Tim Frank tweeted. “Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe were entertaining a line of questioning about out of the box ideas and ESPN.com chose to make a story that doesn’t exist.”
Given that ESPN.com columnist Tom Haberstroh pushed for a “parking-lot range” four-point shot in his open-letter to new NBA commissioner Adam Silver last month, might there be incentive for the scribe and his peers at the network to inflate idle chatter into serious discussion? “Turns out, Thorn didn’t think the advent of a 4-pointer would be outlandish at all,” Haberstroh wrote yesterday. “Rather than reflexively squash the radical idea, as you might expect from a 72-year-old NBA lifer who has worn just about every hat in the league, Thorn seemed genuinely intrigued at the notion and revealed that the 4-pointer has ‘come up’ in league discussions.”
But in the interview, Vandeweghe answers Henry Abbott’s question with silence and a bemused look. Rod Thorn plays along. “That’s something that’s come up,” the former Nets, Bulls, and ’76ers executive politely explains. When more broadly discussing on-court innovations, Vandeweghe concedes that league executives ponder many suggestions. “I would guess anything can ‘potentially happen,'” the former Nuggets and Trailblazers scorer tells Abbott. “We’re looking at all sorts of things.” When Abbot begins one line of inquiry on innovations, he explains he’s “messing around” with “fun” ideas and invites the executives to either “laugh at them” or say “that sounds great.”
Ultimately, ESPN didn’t laugh at Abbott’s goofy interview, awarding a “fun” discussion about far-out–thirty-feet far out to be precise–suggestions so-serious status, which is why league officials have publicly rebuked their broadcast partner.