Today, I got the opportunity to work a professional basketball game.
Now that I've got that out of the way, let me share with you about this professional league I was afforded the chance to participate with. A few days ago, I was called by someone from the Bluegrass Stallions of the ABA. I must admit it has been a while since I witnessed a pro basketball game in person. Last time was before my family moved from Atlanta, so it's been since 1977 but that's only a guess.
And while I was only 5- or 6-years old since my last pro hoops game, I am pretty sure it wasn't like this. Really, this seemed more like a Globetrotters game than 'professional' basketball game - minus the crazy antics like throwing a bucket of confetti into the crowd.
When contacted by a member of the Stallions staff, I was asked if I could assemble a team of three people to work the game clock and shot clock and do the official scorebook. The Stallions were going to play some 'home' games in Corbin, Ky., where I live, so for a few extra bucks, I didn't mind giving up a Sunday afternoon to watch a basketball game.
Upon arrivial, we asked if there were any differences we needed to know about since the three of us were all used to working collegiate games. Of course, we knew there would be four 12-minute periods instead of two 20-minute halves and that the team fouls reset after each period. But there were some other quirks that really threw us for a loop.
I knew that each player were allowed six personal fouls instead of five in the college game, but players are 'technically' out of the game after their sixth personal foul. Players can play after picking up their sixth foul, but if they commit another foul, it will be assessed just like a technical foul. Consequently, players usually don't play after their sixth foul - we were told.
Another odd rule was that a shot made from halfcourt or farther back counted for 4 points. The Stallions recently had this rule bite them in the rear. They were up by four points in the closing moments when an opposing player sank a shot from 75 feet away.
I knew a 24-second shot clock was in place, but I had no idea that teams has seven seconds to get the ball across the midcourt line unlike 10 seconds in college and high school.
A bonus of two free throws will be in effect on the eighth foul of each quarter. There is no “one & one” rule in the ABA.
Oh, and there is a 'celebrity rule' where the home team is allowed one celebrity team member to play in the game.
Also, the scorer's table does not have to concern itself of alerting the officials about subs coming into the game. We were told by the officials that they will take care of the subs and allow them into the game at the appropriate times. To be honest, we were fine with this. One less thing for us to worry about.
Yet, the strangest and oddest rule of all is what is known as the "3-D" rule. When a team loses possession of the ball (violation or foul) before establishing player control past half court the “3-D” is on. To signify that a "3-D" is on, we had to turn on what was essentially Christmas lights around the basketball goal of the team who now has control of the ball. When a "3-D" is on, a 2-point goal is now worth 3 points, a 3-point goal is worth 4 points and a 4-point goal is 5 points. Also, an extra free throw is awarded for any foul on a field goal attempt. And the "3-D" remains in play until the team scores, attempts a free throw, the other team gets control of the ball or the period ends.
You confused now? We were too when we were first told about it. Of course, the guy telling us about it said, "Don't worry about it. It happens about four or five times a game." Let me just say that a "3-D" was in play FIVE TIMES in the first period!!!
Also, I had never seen a DJ at a basketball game. That's right, a DJ.
Music was played throughout the game, while the ball was in play. Oh, and the dancers performed along the sideline to the music while the ball as in play. I truly felt like I was in a video game.
I'd love to write about the Stallions and the ABA, but this has been long enough. But this topic will be back since I'll be working at least one more game for them.
So until then ...