The Sports Revolution: The AutoTyer

Let me set the scene for you: it’s late in an NBA playoff game (one of those before the conference finals), and one team is running the other off the floor as the time ticks off the clock. You correctly turn off the television.

Let’s reset that scene: it’s late in an NBA playoff game, and one team is running the other off the floor, when the trailing team nails a 75-foot shot from inside their own three-point line to tie the game. It doesn’t matter how much that team trailed by because they just hit a three-quarter court shot. And because this is even a possibility, you correctly left your television on.

It’s the kind of game we all played in the driveway against our older brothers. Sure, you may be up 19-4 in a game to 21, but if I hit this shot from behind the minivan, it’s all tied.* Nobody wants to see players dribble out the clock, or worse yet, start a parade to the free throw line—far more of a fait accompli in the NBA game than the college variety (et tu, Calipari?).

*What? Nobody else played one-on-one this way?

So let’s fundamentally change the way games end in the NBA by introducing the AutoTyer to the game’s final two minutes. If a team can make a shot from inside its own three-point line, it automatically ties the game. Down 58? Chris Paul can launch and tie it in a single possession. Down three? Tie the game in style. Up seven? It’s probably not the best strategy, then, because the AutoTyer works both ways, and you would lose seven points.

Just think of all the advantages. Regular season games that are otherwise over by the end of the third quarter are exciting until the end with the prospect of seeing the AutoTyer—a shot hard enough to be rare, but easy enough to be conceivable. When a star player mails in the second game of a back-to-back, all is forgiven with one shot. Fouling at the end of the game becomes a superfluous strategy; better to just let the other team score and take your chances from inside your own arc. Teams can even devote spots on the bench to a player well-schooled in launching from deep instead of to washed-up college stars or introspective authors.*

*Don’t worry, Paul Shirley: You can still keep your jersey.

Lastly, who doesn’t enjoy players trying their hand from 75 feet away? Remember that LeBron James Powerade commercial? Q.E.D.

What about the disadvantages, you say? Sure, it’s a contrivance, but so are all sports—and particularly certain end-of-game rules in the NBA. In the final minute of the contest, teams can call a timeout and advance the ball three-quarters of the court. The only logic behind this rule is that it makes it easier for that team to score in less time; it is patently unfair. Imagine the NFL deciding that teams that score in the final minute have to kick off from their own goal line, or Major League Baseball ruling that the bottom of the ninth should start with a runner on second—just for kicks.

The rule makes timeouts more valuable in the final sixty seconds than in the first 2,820 and allows for James and Derek Fisher to top Hedo Turkoglu and Tim Duncan, respectively. It questions the integrity of how games finish and also leads to an endless series of timeouts preceding each possession.*

*Unless Vinny del Negro and/or Mike Brown used them all already.

So I’m calling your bluff, NBA. Want more contrived, illogical end-of-game rules that undercut the integrity of the outcome? The AutoTyer is here to save you from the tyranny of boring finishes, boost ratings to unforeseen levels, and, potentially, obliterate some scoring records if anyone becomes especially adept at it.

Oh and did I mention I’m really good at 75-footers?

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] I often ask a lot on behalf of my readers: a suspension of traditional thinking, a very creative imagination, the willingness to spend trillions of dollars to solve otherwise fickle […]

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  2. […] were a little upset none of us quite made the cut (Pierre’s pretty sure he’s No. 11 for his treatise on the AutoTyer). Finally, for even longer-form sportswriting, New York Magazine conducted a symposium of sorts on […]

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