FanPost

An Open Letter to David Stern

Dear Mr. Stern,

 

I am writing in regard to what has been called the worst statistic in all of sports – the assist.  The criteria for determining an assist, while perhaps logical in theory, seem to fall severely short in actual practice – but I’m getting ahead of myself.  First, we need to understand what an assist really is.

 

As a noun, the dictionary defines an assist as "a helpful act;" as a verb, to assist is "to be associated with as an assistant or helper."  In the basketball sense, an assist is deemed to be a pass that enables the receiver to score a goal.  But based on the true meaning of the word, an assist really should be much more than that.

 

Please indulge my outlining of several true-to-life scenarios – ones which all basketball fans are guaranteed see multiple times during every game – followed by my recommendations on how assists should be assessed for each.

Scenario 1:  A point guard uses a high screen and drives to the elbow, causing the defense to rotate to stop the penetration.  The guard then passes the ball behind his back, between the legs of two defenders, to a center in the low post.  The defense rotates to the center, and he passes to a teammate cutting from the weak side for an uncontested layup.

 

Observations:  It is quite evident that the point guard’s use of the screen, drive to the elbow, and wizardry in passing the ball is what makes this play work.  All the center does is catch the ball, maybe give a little head fake, and clumsily bounce the ball in the direction of a cutting teammate.

 

Current scoring: The center gets an assist.

 

Suggested scoring: The center and the point guard both get an assist.  (Hello, NHL.)

 

Scenario 2:  A point guard beats his defender off the dribble and penetrates into the lane.  The defense collapses, and the point guard kicks out to a teammate camped out in the corner.  The defense flows to the ball, and an extra pass is made to a now wide-open teammate who nails an uncontested three-pointer.

 

Observations:  Basically, the same as in Scenario 1.  The point guard does all the work.  All the second guy does is chicken out and pass the ball.

 

Current scoring: The second player gets an assist.

 

Suggested scoring:  The second player and the point guard both get an assist, eh.

 

Scenario 3:  A point guard uses a high screen, the defender goes under the screen, and the point guard takes and makes a barely contested jump shot.

 

Observations:  Although he never touches the ball, the player who sets the screen quite obviously performs a "helpful act."  It is his presence as a physical barrier which allows the scorer to get a clean look at the basket.

 

Current scoring:  No assist is granted.

 

Suggested scoring:  The player who sets the screen gets an assist.

 

Scenario 4:  A point guard beats his defender off the dribble and penetrates into the lane.  The defense does not rotate to help, unwilling to leave the sharpshooter camped out in the corner.  The point guard scores an uncontested layup.

 

Observations:  Basically, the same as in Scenario 3.  The sharpshooter’s presence in the corner is what keeps the lane open for the point guard.

 

Current scoring:  No assist is granted.

 

Suggested scoring:  The sharpshooter gets an assist.

 

Scenario 5:  A point guard beats his defender and penetrates into the lane.  The defense rotates, and the point guard kicks out to a teammate camped out in the corner.  The defense is slow to rotate, and the sharpshooter takes and misses the shot.

 

Observations:  Geez, the point guard is really pissed now.  He drives to the lane, attracts all the attention, likely gets knocked down to the floor, and numbnuts misses the freaking shot.

 

Current scoring:  No basket is made, so no assist is given.

 

Suggested scoring:  It’s not the point guard’s fault no basket was scored.  His efforts should be recognized.  The point guard gets an assist, and the teammate loses an assist (to keep the box score fair).

 

Scenario 6:  A point guard beats his defender off the dribble and penetrates into the lane.  The defense does not rotate to help, unwilling to leave the sharpshooter camped out in the corner.  The point guard scores an uncontested layup.  (Is there an echo in here?)

 

Observations:  Why didn’t the defense rotate?  If they did, the point guard would (obviously) not have scored a basket.

 

Current scoring:  No assist is granted.

 

Suggested scoring:  The failure of the defense to rotate clearly aids in the basket being scored.  The defender who did not rotate loses an assist.

 

Scenario 7:  A point guard beats his defender off the dribble and penetrates into the lane.  The defense does not rotate to help, unwilling to leave the sharpshooter camped out in the corner.  The point guard scores an uncontested layup.  (Whaaa…..??????)

 

Observations:  Why did the defending point guard get beat off the dribble?  That’s clearly the primary reason why the shot was made.  Aren’t we talking about professional athletes here?  Does the defending point guard not do any speed work, or shuttle relays, or squats, or plyometrics?  Come on, Bibby, try to freaking care!!!!  (Sorry about that last bit… old habits die hard.)

 

Current scoring:  No assist is granted.

 

Suggested scoring:  The failure of the Mike Bibby to stay in front of his man is clearly the entire reason why the basket was scored.  The defending point guard loses an assist.

 

Scenario 8:  A basket is made.

 

Observations:  Obviously, every offensive teammate was doing something to either free up the shooter, pass the ball to the shooter, or put a voodoo curse on the opposition.  It is equally apparent that every defender failed in their assignment of stopping the ball from going in the basket.

 

Current scoring:  Makes no sense.  Obviously.

 

Suggested scoring:  Each offensive player gets an assist except for the scorer (exceptions are LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, who get an assist every time they score, pass, foul, or fart).  Each defensive player loses an assist for sucking so badly at defense (exceptions are LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, who blah blah blah).

 

Scenario 9:  A basket is missed.

 

Observations:  [Profane] me, Kevin, make a [profane]ing shot already!!!!

 

Current scoring:  No basket is made, so no assist is given.

 

Suggested scoring:  Clearly, each offensive player is a failure in the game of basketball; they all lose an assist, except for the shooter, who loses two assists for letting down all of his teammates (exceptions are… well, you know).  Every defensive player gets an assist for not eating too many 7-layer burritos (exceptions are Glen "Big Uno Uno" Davis and Sean May, for obvious reasons).  The offensive team’s coaching staff likewise loses an assist for not teaching these kids proper fundamentals, and every fan in attendance gets an assist for suffering through such a painful display of mediocrity.

 

*****

 

So Dave (I can call you Dave, can’t I?), it’s quite clear that something needs to be done about how assists are scored.  It’s equally obvious that the arguments outlined above will completely resolve this raging debate.  I’m not asking for any sort of monetary compensation for my brilliant contribution to the long-term viability of the game; still, some sort of recognition would be nice.  Perhaps, instead of calling it an "assist", we could call it a "doog"?

 

Respectfully,

 

doogman77

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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