A modest suggestion to speed up the game

May, 20, 2011
5/20/11
12:05
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
David Stern met with the Board of Governors recently. That's as weighty a meeting as there is on the NBA calendar. After talk about moving the Kings and labor negotiations, he said this:
Beyond that, we had reports on basketball, reports  which is always fun, this is, after all, a basketball league -- reports on officiating; report on ongoing efforts to tighten up our games with respect to making them a bit shorter, which we have begun by making sure our players resume play; and we have opened the subject for discussion; resume play after timeouts and overtime in a timely fashion; and we also began today to open the discussion on possibly cutting down on the number of timeouts.

And there was a very energetic discussion about that, as well.

Important people, arguing hard on the noble topic of picking up the pace of NBA games! A tough nut to crack!

Now, to the NBA rulebook, where we learn that NBA timeouts are, at their longest, 100 seconds.

From there -- keep up! -- to the stopwatch on my new-fangled phone (on which, by the way, I can now watch ESPN games live, which is shocking), which I started when a recent playoff timeout was granted.

215 seconds. More than double the prescribed length.

Later I clocked a 20-second timeout, which included, amusingly, exactly 20 seconds of stoppage before going to a 30-second commercial. The ball was back in play 76 seconds after the cutely-named "20-second" timeout started.

So, OK, yes, I hear the commissioner's point about reducing the number of timeouts. And, in all honesty, I hear the point about needing to play those commercials that pay the bills. There's a reason it is the way it is, and this is a business.

However, if the judgment of the league is that games need to be shorter, let's not be squishy about how games got long. It has almost nothing to do with players hustling back to the court. It has to do with the fact that while a lot of that rulebook is enforced to the letter of the law, that 100-second stipulation ... referees aren't exactly enforcing that one, and the league knows exactly why.

Henry Abbott | email

TrueHoop, NBA

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