Long-Range Basketball Assassins

Article by Phil Hanrahan

Leave it to the Harlem Globetrotters. Those innovative roundball wizards, who helped popularize the slam dunk, alley-oop, and behind-the-back pass, debuted a four-point line last year — 30 feet out from the tin — which rewards mad bombers jacking from a distance six-plus feet beyond the top of the NBA’s three-point line. 

And where the Globetrotters have gone, the NBA might follow — at least if some league officials, on-the-record players, and hoop pundits, including former ESPN-er Bill Simmons, author of The Book of Basketball, have their way.

Yep, imagine a future where the Splash Brothers — Golden State’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson — are raining four-pointers instead of threes, allowing their team to crush opponents even more mercilessly, or get right back in games they’re losing.

In 2014, ESPN reported league officials discussed adding such a line. In a TV interview that same year, president of NBA operations Rod Thorn confirmed the report, then shared memories from his days as New Jersey Nets general manager, recalling Vince Carter’s ability to effortlessly launch 30-footers in games and practice.

Ex-Lakers great and former head coach Byron Scott has expressed support for the idea, while Hall of Fame Celtic legend Larry Bird — a three-time Three-Point Shootout champion and longtime Indiana Pacers executive — said this to The New Yorker in 2015: “Every ten, twelve, fifteen years, there’s something new coming in. You put that four-point line in there and people will start practicing. And once they start practicing, they get better at it… The game evolves.”

Current NBA sharpshooters Kyle Korver and Damian Lillard are on-board. “I’m in,” Korver stated to The New Yorker, adding that it would bring fun to the game. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Portland’s Lillard lamented the three-point line’s lack of challenge. “You’ve got so many guys shooting it so easy!” he told the radio host.