- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2005

Note to NBA players:

There is nothing wrong with the pull-up bank shot in transition from either side of the block near the basket.

This is an elementary shot, the highest percentage shot on the floor other than a layup or dunk, being that it is in the 8- to 10-foot range and merely requires using the glass.

The decision to pull up instead of barreling toward the basket would eliminate the increasing number of block/player control quandaries before the referees.

The referees inevitably feel obligated to call something if there is contact. They see bodies crashing to the floor and check to ascertain whether the defender is standing inside or outside the arc underneath the basket before making an uneducated guess as to who is at fault.

Only you, the viewer, knows who is really at fault because of instant replay. Even then, fault can be too close to call.

Much of the fog could be eliminated if more players would accept the worthiness of a 10-foot bank shot in transition.

The latter is worth two points, the same as a dunk, although the bank shot might not get a player much air time on “SportsCenter.”

Teams routinely run fastbreak drills in practice, each designed to increase the on-court awareness of players, whether in a 2-on-1 or 3-on-1 or 3-on-2 situation, or knowing when to pull the ball out and set up the offense if the numbers favor the opposition.

One early trend in the NBA is the pronounced number of collisions near the basket, of more and more defenders resorting to the Vlade Divac-inspired pratfall.

Or maybe Bill Laimbeer deserves the blame.

So much of the flopping would be unnecessary if more offensive players did not commit to the basket until the last possible instant. Somewhere, though, between the foul line extended and the basket, too many players make the early decision to go to the basket, with predictable results.

To use Gilbert Arenas as an early-season victim, his forays to the basket are mostly leading to low-percentage shot attempts, bodies flying every which way and referees who have swallowed their whistles.

Arenas is being treated like a 10-day contract player, as opposed to the third-team All-NBA selection he was last season.

All kinds of human rights violations are being perpetrated against his body, none of which prompts the attention of the referees.

This is strange, even contradictory.

Sometimes, one player will breathe on another player, and one of the referees will charge the offending party with bad breath.

At least with Arenas, there is a maneuver around the madness, as he demonstrated against the Magic last Saturday night, which is the short bank shot.

Arenas has the total assortment of shots, unlike many players, and he would be wise to shoot the pull-up bank shot with more frequency until the referees swing into midseason form.

The midrange bank shot is not a lost art. It just has been de-emphasized because of the big-buck shots, the dunk and 3-pointer.

If you recall, Scottie Pippen was a master of the bank shot. He was not necessarily a pure shooter. But his use of the glass in midrange settings made him a far more accurate shooter than he otherwise was.

No one likes to see a game left to the referees.

One rule in this regard is if you can save the ball from going out of bounds, then save it, even if it was last touched by the opposition. By taking the referee out of the sequence, a player removes the possibility of human error intruding on a team’s possession of the ball.

It is similar to the block/player control call.

Keep the referee from making that call as much as possible.

Just take the darn 10-foot bank shot.

A coach can live with the occasional miss, which can be rebounded.

Players have no such opportunity if a referee is blowing his whistle.

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