The Spineless Zone
Basketball is a great American sport. June 6, 1946 was one of the greatest days in sports history. On that glorious day in American history, the National Basketball Association was created (NBA). Less than seven months later the NBA outlawed zone defense (NBA). Those great men decided that professional athletes should have to guard each other, instead of guarding an area. During my basketball experiences, there was nothing more frustrating than a team with less skill pulling back into a zone defense. Zone defense is a slap in the face to me and the work I put in to become a good defender. As an athlete I wanted to prove that I could compete with the best, one man against another man. All basketball players should feel this way, especially professional basketball players. Zone defense is for cowards and has weakened professional basketball. Now, the glory days are gone, there is no such thing as an illegal defense, slashers are limited, and isolation is scarce.
After zone defense was banned there was a 54 year period of nothing but old fashioned man defense. I can remember watching clips of Magic Johnson, Pistol Pete, and Michael Jordan using their athleticism to maneuver their way around defender and penetrate into the lane. There is footage of Magic Johnson driving through the lane while wrapping the ball around his body, faking a pass to a teammate and executing a flawless finger-roll. In today’s game there would probably be a large center waiting on him and blocking his lay-up. The three-second area was the place where action took place. Skillful dribbling or cutting without the ball could get you to the promise land of points. The pizzazz of yesterday’s game has dissipated and an ugly cloud of zone defense has evolved. Would the great slashers and penetrators yesterday be as effective in today’s chess match of zone defense?
Twelve years ago illegal defense rules were eliminated. This travesty still haunts me today. Why are grown men guarding an area? “It is where one gifted player can finish a game for a team, and a finisher is what separates the haves and have-nots around the NBA” (Allowing). These men are supposed to be at the pinnacle of the sport. Zone defense allows weak teams to cover their defensive inefficiencies. Allowing zone defense takes away the painted area of the court. Players can stand in the area for three seconds just to clog up the lane. After three seconds they must remove themselves from the paint, but they can legally go right back to the same spot once they leave. This allows large men to sit in the lane and deter offensive player from slashing to the goal. When a player close to seven feet tall can stand in front of the rim for the entire game, how can smaller players get to the hoop? Slashers are limited to the brief moment when the defender camping in the lane must exit and renter. The moves of quick guards will be traded in for passing and sharpshooters. “Here's the thing: You don't beat a...