The 3-Point Shot Is Up… It’s GOOD!
Less than two weeks ago, on June 14, the 3-point-loving Orlando Magic fell to the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
If not for a vote that was passed almost 30 years ago, the Magic might not have had a 3-point line to love.
In the 1970s, it was noticeable that the National Basketball Association (NBA) needed an injection of excitement. Just watching the running back and forth and the same uneventful shots had become boring.
Recognizing the prior success of the 3-point line in the defunct American Basketball Association (ABA), the NBA proposed the same for its league.
It was on Wednesday, June 13, 1979, that the head coaches and general managers (GMs) of the NBA voted on the proposal.
The coaches and GMs compiled a 30-12 vote in favor of the proposal for the game-changing 3-point basket.
Fortunately, a vote was never taken on the addition of the ABA’s red, white and blue basketball.
One week later in June 1979, at the paradise-entrenched Amelia Island Plantation (just north of Jacksonville), meetings were held to address the 3-point proposal with the NBA’s Board of Governors, which consisted of team owners and representatives, as well as then-commissioner Larry O’Brien and CBS representatives.
By a two-thirds majority vote, the Board of Governors (in the closed-door meetings at Amelia Island) decided to pass the 3-point proposal. This decision revived the NBA.
The 3-point line was expected to bring more excitement and buzz to the NBA game. Not only that, but it gave every middle-school youngster the opportunity to daydream that one day he could lace ‘em up and be one of the NBA’s elite, shooting a 3-pointer in the last few seconds of a playoff game.
The terrible television ratings were the primary reason that the 3-point line was established.
It was initially decided that the 3-point line would be a mere test run for one year. The first season (1979-80) of the 3-point line play did not attract additional spectators.
Compared to the prior season, the 1979-80 season had 159 less people attend games. But, the 3-point line slowly gathered a following.
From 1980 to 1983, total-team attendance fluctuated in the 10 million spectator range. Record-high attendance records were set, but attendance didn’t skyrocket.
Finally, in 1983-84, attendance climbed to 11 million people and gradually swelled to an additional one million per year through the late 1980s.
Additionally, during the 1979-80 season, the NBA signed a cable television deal with USA Networks.
Rather than just attracting viewers who were only interested in the action-packed last two minutes of the game, regional networks offered NBA fans a chance to watch a number of games.
In 1982, the NBA extended its contract with CBS to allow live coverage of the NBA Finals. At the same time, the NBA signed a television deal with ESPN.
Let’s not forget the unforgettable athletic performances that Laker legend Magic Johnson and Celtic great Larry Bird brought to the game. Watching them on television became a must-stay-at-home event. Their performances also hyped up the glory of basketball from 1979 and onward.
The NBA had finally become more entertaining and attractive to viewers than ever before due to the marketable star athletes, cable television deals and the almighty 3-point line.
With the available 3-pointer, no team is considered down-and-out. The 3-pointer has allowed for more down-to-the-wire and nail-biting finishes.
As with the most recent NBA playoffs, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James and the Orlando Magic’s Rashard Lewis have proven that a 3-pointer can definitely bring excitement to the NBA game.
Without the 3-pointer, the stars we know today maybe never would have reached stardom. Long-time Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller never would have nailed 3-pointers in front of famed-director Spike Lee at Madison Square Garden. Three-point specialist Ray Allen wouldn’t be able to stroke his smooth perimeter shot over a defender’s outstretched hand.
Now, the NBA has more loyal fans than ever. Stars and television deals help, but the 3-point line is what has completed the NBA.
Young athletes from the 1980s and thereafter, while shooting hoops, have boasted with confidence, “Larry Bird, with the 3-point shot at the buzzer. It’s good!!!”
A dunk or 18-foot jumper just does not bring the same thrill. A young, impressionable athlete won’t be pounding his way into the paint shouting, “And, Shaq with two seconds left…SLAM DUNK.” It’s not going to happen. It’s not realistic. Who has the height (over 7-feet tall) to make that a reality.
Nor will that same rising star athlete dribble inside the 3-point arc and yell passionately, “Vince Carter from 18 feet out, and swish. For 2 points!” It’s not electrifying.
The 3-point basket is representative of overcoming the odds and sneaking up from behind to prove the doubters are wrong. Shoot, anyone can do it. The NBA gave the 3-point line a shot and look at the result. It’s historical, and it’s here for at least another 30 years (unless the excitement once again erodes and forces the NBA to create another fascinating point reward).