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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

José Calderon : Spain would have won under FIBA rules

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EuroBasket 2005 Spain v Croatia

Spain pushed Team USA to their limits in the Men's Olympic Basketball Gold Medal Game. José Calderon, who was injured and could not take part in the game, in fact believes that Spain should have won the match.

On Calderon's personal blog, he was a little coy about the topic, going only so far as to say, "Now is not the time to discuss the referees, injuries, absences..." However, on news site El Mundo, he aired his opinion a little more clearly in the Olympic blog he maintained for the site.

(Please note that this translation is a combination of my rudimentary Spanish knowledge and that of google's translator service)

"This is not the time to speak of officiating, but I think with the FIBA rules we would have won. That is why we are a little annoyed, because we were right there at the finish line and we have just missed out."

He makes a point on both blogs of pointing out that Spain is a team and plays as such and that this is their strength. There is no doubt that this is what took the Spaniards to such a high level in the Games, despite missing out at the end.

Calderon's point regarding the rules does require some consideration though. Did the rule changes and different interpretation of those existing rules by FIBA (to come more in line with NBA rules) give an advantage to the Americans? If you were a conspiracy theorist, would you then take that one step further to ask the question as to whether the rules were changed/interpreted differently by FIBA in order to keep USA Basketball interested in international basketball and continue to send top players to compete?

So, to what rule changes exactly is Calderon referring? There have been no specific rule changes that came into effect prior to the Olympics per se, however there has been a perceived difference in the way the rules have been interpreted by referees, in the eyes of many observers. These differences mainly centre around travelling violations, charge/block calls, carrying violations and continuation on shooting fouls.

There have however been legislative changes made to the rules by FIBA, that will come into effect at later dates. At FIBA's 25-26 April, 2008 meeting the Board agreed on a series of rule changes which would come into play after the Olympics, ie from 1 October, 2008 and then a greater set of rule changes that would be effective after the 2010 World Championships (post 1 October, 2010).

The October 2008 rule changes are fairly insignificant and mainly involve backcourt violations and unsportsmanlike/technical fouls. The 2010 rule changes is where FIBA really sends their daughter into bed with David Stern.

As of 2010, the three point line will come out to 6.75m to move toward the NBA's line. The key will no longer be a trapezoid, but will become an NBA-styled rectangle. No-charge semi-circles will be marked under the basket. In short, FIBA basketball will become the NBA -- they just need to adjust the zone defence rules to marry up fully.

So why has FIBA made these rule changes? "The recommendations by the FIBA Technical Commission and the decisions taken by the Central Board were strived by the attempt to further unify all existing game rules and to have, in the future, only one set of rules for the game of basketball worldwide."

The emphasis above is mine. The obvious thing to be noted here however, is that most of the changes in the relationship have come from FIBA's side. The marriage counsellor surely isn't doing their job properly.

Howard Beck of the New York Times: "Winning Olympic gold in Beijing depended partly on Team USA’s ability to cope with the unfamiliar geometry of the international game: a trapezoidal lane, a shallow 3-point arc and a contorted array of driving lanes.
But in two years, the trapezoid will be dead, the arc will be a little deeper and the international game will be a bit closer in style to the N.B.A.’s."

The view from the outside is that of course the NBA has always been very resistant to rule changes that would affect the product they are promoting. David Stern wants to maintain a league which demostrates excitement, with one-on-one matchups, slashing to the basket and serious athletic dunking on display. So FIBA no doubt felt forced to comprimise in the NBA's direction if the two were ever to meet up. Are the changes good for the game worldwide? That's questionable and to a large extent a matter of taste. Is strawberry or chocolate ice cream tastier?

The angle coming from FIBA on this is that they like the NBA rules and saw a need for these changes:

Basketball officials in the United States welcomed the changes, although they did not specifically push for them.

“It’s also probably an endorsement of our game and our rules,” said Jerry Colangelo, the managing director of the senior national team for USA Basketball.

Although it appears that the international game is moving toward the American model, “that is not the way the FIBA board who made the decision actually felt about it,” said Patrick Baumann, the secretary general for FIBA. The goals of the association’s board, he said, were much broader than merely standardizing the game.

In FIBA’s view, the 3-point shot has become too common. In 1984, when the arc was added in international play, only 14 percent of all field-goal attempts were 3-pointers, Baumann said. Now, he added, that number is 40 percent and players routinely make 38 to 40 percent of them.

“The board felt that’s no longer now an exceptional shot,” Baumann said. “It felt something needed to be done.”

What do you think? Are the changes for the good of the game internationally? Does Calderon have a point in relation to these past Olympics and how they were officiated?

Update: with video analysis

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dgddmdd7 said...

Jose is just bitter. The world got basketball from America. The NBA and the NCAA are the cornerstones of basketball as we know it today. Great players of European,Asian,African,and Eastern Bloc countries(Dirk,Akeem,Yao,AK47,etc)adapt to Americanized rules. Some don't adjust their games and return to play for their home countries(Navarro ,for instance)to play. I will say this...if the Olympic Games were played on U.S. soil,and the NBA rules were used,would Team Spain have won? No. Team USA had to adapt to FIBA rules and won the gold. The Olympic rules are closer to (if not exactly like) FIBA than to NBA rules. Calderon is a standout point guard in the NBA. He shouldn't be making excuses. His team lost the game.They were outplayed by a more determined USA squad.

Spanish said...

Hello, I just readed this and found it totally missed what the players from spain are complaining about.
First I will say I think that the usa tema were beter, and even with spain playing at top level.
BUT the main complaining was about the travelling violation. In the NBA is 2 steps and launch the ball, in FIBA you have to launch the ball BEFORE you move your feet to take the firs step. That's the big deal, and by FIBA rules the usa team made more than 35 travelling violations in the game (we had a referee counting them), including that last by KB where he did take 2 full steps and caused the last technical for spain when they complained.
And by the way, that rule is not going to be changued, and you avoided to do more than name it, not telling the differences or anything. I guess USA would have a ore difficult time beating any fiba tema if they can't get that little adventage in all it's games

mookie said...

@ Spanish

Gracias por el comentario.

This makes some more sense, with the emphasis on that "first step". This has been a long-standing complaint by people around the world with respect to the NBA game. I know that imports from America, when they first start playing in a place like Australia for example, have difficulties adjusting to having to put the ball on the floor before taking that first step and consquently get called for a lot of travelling violations early in their careers outside of the United States.

If indeed this is true (and I have not analysed video to decide, as you have) that the referees were interpreting that first step from an NBA perspective, rather than a FIBA perspective, than there is indeed cause to be upset. Whether it is a game-breaker, is another matter altogether though.

Por cierto, Bilbao es una ciudad hermosa!

Spanish said...

Yes, the only thing is that first steps adds to the speed in all the plays. I'm not saying that USA wouldn't have win anyway, but it was close as it was.
Here you have a couple of examlpes from the final (there were a lot more):

And the mock from Navarro in the final seconds:

Even if Fifa rules were been applyed, the organization could have tell something as "we are going to be permisive about this for ALL the NBA palyers" as we have pp here in spain that also knows how to do it ;)

But as I have told you, I guess the problem was this travelling was not being called from the start, and then the players would do it more and more. If this would have been done right from the begining I'm sure USA would have reajusted, and would have win by around 20 all his games instead of around 30, that's all.

I want to say again that anyway I think they were the best team (or at least the best players) even if they would have lost to us in the final. As you know is not ever that the best team wins.

Spanish said...

Well, it's a game breaker when you mix it with the extreme quickness and phisical condition of everyone in this team.
Here you have 2 examples from the final:

And the mock from Navarro in the final seconds

I think the problem was they were not called for travelling from the begining and didn't even need to adjust. If they would have been called from the begining I still think they would have won all their games, just not from 30 pts, but 20 or so.
Anyway I keep on thinking that USA team (or at least it's players) were better. Is just that as you know is not ever the best team is the one who wins a game. And that final was pretty close.

PD: Gracias, I live pretty near Bilbao

mookie said...

Wow, thanks for those gif files -- they were some pretty impressive examples of what you're talking about. I don't think anyone can argue with that type of evidence.

I did see that Navarro mock travel at the end of the game and actually wondered what he was doing. So that explains it!

As you say though, it did seem that USA was the better team on the day and with an explosion from Kobe at the end of the game, any team in the world (apart from the Boston Celtics apparently) would have trouble stopping that.

Espana certainly has plenty of promise for the next World Championships and Olympics with all of the youth on the squad, even with the retirement of Jimenez.

-- Mookie

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments about the FIBA rules differences.

Do the FIBA rules not include 3 seconds calls because those Gasol boys sure did spend an awful lot of time camped out in the paint?

What about that forearm shot to the jaw that Marc Gasol delivered to Chris Bosh in the latter stages of the 4th quarter that resulted in an open jumper for Pau? Do those FIBA rules allow you to do that?

Do the FIBA rules allow players to throw towels on the court in protest without earning a technical foul?

Listening to people complain about some open court traveling calls that weren't made but ignore the way Spain took advantage of their size by staying in the lane for more than 3 seconds, or the way that Spain would hold the US players who were trying to rotate on defense, is nothing but loser's lament.

Anonymous said...

dear dgddmdd7, just to correct you, a Canadian, Dr.James Naismith invented basketball. I'm Canadian so i should know this. P.S. Spain would have had a much better chance against the US if Calderon was playing and that's why he's bitter, because he couldn't help his team because of an injury. Go Raptors!

Spanish said...

Dear Anonymous ...
First, I'm not trying to do any loser's lament, and I repeat that I think that USA whould have win anyway (and that 4 point play by Kobe is a good example).

Spanish for more than the 3 seconds in the lane? Sure, as Bosh or Howard did more than once. I don't complain about it. Not properly done things from the spanish bench? Sure, as all the USA's bench was up while the spanish's one was told to sit down. Fouls and hits being called or not? Sure, as it happens in every game, you remember the one from Gasol, I remembr a couple by LJ and one from CB, and also another one from Garbajosa.
Every team of the tournament (spain and usa included) got fouls, technicals, 3 seconds violation, atack fouls...
The main discordance here was that 2 referees from the euroleage, one of wich is very known for calling travelling, did not call them even once to USA in the final (in fact I think it was called just once), nor it was called for the USA team in all the games, when it was clear for every FIBA player-coach-journalist (not only spanish) that they were doing it in almost every posession. In fact the mock Navarro did should had also been called, but the referes weren't able to do it.
As I've said I think that if it had been called from the start, they would have simply adjust their game and keep on playing. The problem here is that it was never called and that is what started all the complains, nothing more.

PD: Basketball in fact was invented in USA, Springfield (Massachusetts) by James Naismith in 1891.

Handy said...

"the NBA has always been very resitant to rule changes that would effect the product they are promoting"

"affect" not "effect" and "resistant" not "resitant"

Love the site though. As for this topic, smells of sour grapes. I'm not a fan of the further changes being made to the game, although it's difficult to make a claim that one set is better than the other. I have to admit though, I love college and enjoy the NBA but the Olympic games bored me to tears, save the ending of Lithuania and Greece. Perhaps there's something to the rules in the NBA...

Albin Repše said...

Every and each single time. And even put it on net.




Traveling, "how not to do it" :)

Marketeer said...

A bit like sour grapes.

But the fact of the matter is that traveling violations are interpreted differently in the US and the rest of the world.

I like that FIBA and the NBA are working towards standardizing the rules. To that I have to say that it only makes sense to lean towards the NBA rules/interpretations since they have had a longer time and more success in adjusting their product to their respective market than FIBA has.

It's hard not to disagree with Calderon's bitterness. But, he shouldn't disregard the determination of Team USA when he makes the claim that Spain would have won if a travel had been called here and there.

Dan said...

I wonder if perhaps the old "Riley effect" comes into play here, and the refs just don't want to call it all the time. That LeBron walk is pretty funny, tho. That's so NBA, and is a travel anywhere, FIBA or not. I think the Spanish team has been pretty classless in general, sadly, and this is just a small example. Pity, I like their team otherwise.

I'm really glad to see them move the 3-pt line, actually. European basketball can be pretty dull sometimes, since you just have these tall slow guys launching 3s. Same as with NCAA, it was just too close. All the best players play in the NBA at some point, they can shoot from there.

bau3r said...

Jose, you are sore loser. You whine about refs, but what about Kobe and LeBron picking up two ridiculous fouls in the first quarter?

I noticed that was missing from all your complaining. You lost, get the F over it. That was your one best chance to win gold and you didn't.

Want some nice cheese with that whine?

big brandon said...

sure jose (cry)deron can conplain all he wants about the rules the fact is that america created basketball that means in my opinion the rules should be american not international! so since spain has about everybody on there team in the nba what are they crying about!