NBA executive Joe Dumars is trying to remove all the “trash” from the game, one trip at a time

NBA executive Joe Dumars is trying to remove all the “trash” from the game, one trip at a time

If you want to enlighten people who don’t pay attention to the NBA until Christmas Day, tell them the league got something like paritythe referees are call travel violationsthe dreaded “take” fouls are gone and the number of exploits is way down.

If you want to impress them with numbers, tell them the top 10 teams in the Western Conference are separated by four games in the standings and the top five teams in the Eastern Conference are separated by three and a half games, half. the league is just a short distance away from first place. There have already been 36 overtime games (almost 8 percent of all games), meaning this season is on pace for the most N.B.A history As of December 18, games had been decided by the smallest average scoring margin (10.9 points) in eight years.

In a Zoom call four days before the NBA’s annual Christmas extravaganza, Joe Dumars, the Detroit Pistons the legend and Hall of Famer who is now the league’s executive vice president and head of basketball operations was positively gleeful about it all.

“These are the things you would expect,” Dumars said. “These are the things you want to see for your league. You want to see very competitive games. You don’t want to see a lot of blowouts. If you could diagram it, you would. But you can’t. And that’s the way it has to happen natural”.

Dumars, who joined the league office in May, said it’s “harder and harder for any team in the league to go on the court and think they have an easy win.” He’s pleased that the new transition rule on fouls has led to a 14 percent increase in fast break points compared to last season, that referees have cracked down on fouls and unnatural basketball moves, and that efficiency all-league offense (112.1 points per 100). possessions, as of December 18) is the highest it has ever been.

“If you just get those tricks and junk out of the way, what you’re going to see is amazing,” Dumars said. “And I think that’s why you’re seeing what you’re seeing right now.”

The questions and answers below have been edited and condensed slightly for clarity and flow.

CBS Sports: I get these emails that say, “Player X has been suspended/fined, announced today by Joe Dumars.” As a member of the Bad Boys, do you find it funny that you punish players for things that your teammates could have done many times over?

Joe Dumars: funny funny strange That’s all. Because [back then] I have read many of them. Fortunately, I wasn’t on the other end, but I’ve read a million of them over the course of my time with the Bad Boys. So I’m very aware of the notifications coming from the league office.

CBS: I realize you’re not Bill Laimbeer…

JD: No. Not entirely.

CBS: … but you were a physical defender, and this is a different league. Some people who do not do it I love the modern game worships the Bad Boys, and your job is to slow down some of these physical things. How do you square it?

JD: I’m in awe of when we used to play. I have reverence for the teams I’ve played for. I loved being part of the Bad Boys. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But here’s what I would say: Sports are always changing. In baseball, there used to be a lot more stolen bases. You don’t see any Rickey Henderson anymore. In football, the running back carried the ball 30 times per game. That doesn’t happen anymore. In the NBA, it was only post-up, inside basketball. It doesn’t happen anymore. Sports evolve.

The NBA has evolved, that’s all. And you can still love it today and love what you had then. It’s not like an either/or. Two things can be true at the same time. And these things are: I loved it back then. Physical and tough basketball. rivalries All this. But I also love athletics, young guys, 3-point shooting. I love all of this now. And if you look around, tell me which sport hasn’t changed.

CBS: People have been complaining about no-call trips forever. Why travel is a point of emphasis now? What is your perspective on this repression?

JD: So for me, coming into the NBA office, what you realize is that there are always ongoing conversations about rules and points of emphasis. And this was a point of emphasis: It’s time to start calling out the third, fourth, and sometimes fifth step a guy can take; is unacceptable. And as a point of emphasis this season, the message in the meetings with the umpires was: “If you see it, call. Don’t make it up, don’t look for it if it’s not there. But if you see it, call “l”.

Some people ask, “What about the ride?” And I say, “You mean like the third and fourth step, why do we call it that? Because it’s a third and fourth step. [laughs]that’s what we call it!” So it’s just a point of emphasis, and the players will adapt. They always do.

CBS: How is that adjustment going?

JD: So I was in a meeting last week and I was giving a presentation about this. And what I said at this meeting last week, James, was this: Of all points of emphasis — the freedom of movement, the unnatural basketball moves, all these different things — what’s going to take the longest is the travel. You’ve had guys doing these moves since they were teenagers, since they were little kids. They’ve been watching guys make those moves and grow up making those moves. So it’s hardcoded into them to make those moves. And now you say, “You can’t do that, you can’t do three and four steps.”

So the players will adjust, they will do well, but I strongly believe that this is the one that will take the longest for the players to adjust. As you can see with the transition take foul, this is a drop, what, 85, 86 percent from last year. The unnatural basketball move, jumping on a guy after a fake bomb — you don’t see guys do that as much as you used to. That’s what I’m saying. When you make a point or change a rule, guys usually get it. This will be the one that will probably take a little longer.

CBS: Carry/palm was not mentioned as an official point of emphasis, but those calls have increased as well. Was it related to the roaming discussion?

JD: Is. For us it is part of the journey. Look, James, you put your hand under the ball and take two or three steps and then let it go, that’s traveling. And that’s part of the journey too. We don’t see them differently. We see them in the same category.

CBS: The NBA had data from the G League about the lack of transition before making the rule change. Has there been anything about the results so far that has been interesting or surprising to you?

JD: I wouldn’t say surprising, but I would definitely say interesting. And that’s the amount of times you’ve seen a guy on a break and the defender starts to transition and fouls and then throws his hand back. We have seen many of these works. I thought that’s very interesting, that instinctively a guy is thinking, Well, I’ll just take a transition fouland something quickly tells him: You know what, that’s a free kick and the ball goes out of boundsand you just see guys pull their hands back on fast breaks.

CBS: The offensive explosion has only intensified, even with some points of emphasis designed to help the defense. What is your perspective on this?

JD: I think you have to establish that the athleticism and skill level of today’s NBA player is as good as it’s ever been. So that’s number one. Number two, one of the things I talked about, James, coming in was like, “Look, let’s not trash the game.” And to me “spoil the game”, it’s the lack of freedom of movement, the unnatural movements of the basketball, the transition is done poorly. We don’t need gimmicks, we don’t need any of that, we’re the elite basketball league in the world. We have the best athletes in the world doing this. They don’t need tricks. Clean the floor and see how good these guys are. We cleaned all that up and look where the offense has gone.

CBS: It sounds like you’re saying you want the offense up for the right reasons.

JD: Yes. I don’t think you need to put your thumb on the scales of attack in this league. I think guys are so good they don’t need your thumb on the scale. All right [laughs], I’m going to digress a bit here. That’s what I used to say to the referees when they called a foul on Jordan, on Michael, and I didn’t think it was like that. He always told them, “He doesn’t need your help. He’ll be fine without you.” Do you know what I mean? “He’s pretty good, he doesn’t need you to call him.” So I say the same thing about the offense right now in the NBA. We must not bend any rule to offense. Keep it clean and see how good these guys are.

CBS: Is that the same thing you’re hearing now from coaches or players? Like, “Giannis is tough enough to stop without letting him carry the ball.”

JD: This is exactly correct. James, let me ask you this: Of the great players in the league right now, what great player can you point to and say, well, the rule changes made him not a great player? There is no rule change that will take you from being a great player to being a mediocre player. There just isn’t any. watch, Giannis Antetokounmpo it’s still great James Harden it’s still great Bring on Young it’s still great All those guys are still great players, man. That’s what I’m saying. You don’t need your thumb on the scale for these guys.

CBS: The league office is the kind of environment where you can throw out a radical idea, something like, “What would a 40-game schedule look like?” — and really discuss it?

JD: We have an analytics and strategy department that’s run by a guy named Evan Wasch, and they talk about these different things, these different scenarios all the time. This is exactly what they do. I think it depends on the league, if you’re going to be progressive and keep changing and not get stuck in the old ways, I think it’s a must. none league to do so. And so yes, the short answer to your question is yes.

Getty Images

CBS: Your photo with two phones: What’s the story there?

JD: It wasn’t a photo prop or anything like that. I had two different phone calls. I was on the phone with a team, and another team called me on my cell phone, and I didn’t want to miss that call. You know, you’re in the middle of business talks or whatever, and I’m like, “I can’t miss this phone call.” And so I picked up the phone, put it on and I don’t know why a photographer, I don’t know what he was doing, maybe he had been doing some kind of photography that day. And they just took the camera and shot it. And then it becomes this meme and this thing forever. But yes, it was real. i was talking to Howard Beck about this. It was from a war room. And it was a flip phone too.

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