DimeBag: The Weekly Dime Mailbag, Volume XVI

HOW TO SUBMIT: E-mail dimebag@dimemag.com with your question/story/idea and include your name and hometown.

It’s DimeBag time. Let’s get to it.

Daniel, Chicago:

What NBA rule would you institute/change/eliminate?

Because I’m feeling extra adventurous, let’s do all three!

Institute: One-and-one free throws at five fouls, two free throws at eight.

Okay, so this is more of a “change,” but we’ll count it as “institute” just because. How much more drama would there be in end-of-game situations? While DeAndre Jordan could no longer ignore his free throw woes. LeBron would find new ways to choke in the fourth quarter. Kevin Harlan would burst at least 19 more blood vessels. Realistically, five fouls over 12 minutes is hardly enough. The NBA can’t call ticky-tacky fouls and keep the penalty threshold low. This is the middle ground.

Change: “Any player whose contact with the basket ring or backboard causes the backboard to shatter or makes the ring unplayable will be penalized in the following manner:
(1) Pre-game and/or half-time warm-ups – No penalty to be assessed by officials.
(2) During the game – Non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul. Under no circumstances will that player be ejected from the game. The Commissioner will review all actions and plays involved in the shattering of a backboard.”

First of all, the NBA can choke on some saffron risotto with butternut squash for pretentiously referring to the rim as “basket ring.”

Secondly, part two of this rule is deplorable on so many levels. If you break the backboard, you should get seven points, a seven-year contract extension and the right to curse out David Stern for eight minutes straight. Then slap him in the face, skip all postgame press conferences after a loss and receive a lifetime pass for berating officials on Twitter. No NBA play surpasses a great dunk. Shattering the backboard is the pinnacle of dunking achievement. Somewhere Shaq is nodding his head as he picks the glass out of his arm.

Eliminate: Charging

The premise of the rule is sound: No offensive player can run over a defensive player who stands his ground. Except this has morphed into “I can’t play defense so I’m going step in front of you and not move while you’re flying at full speed.” It’s also the only reason why guys like Brian Cardinal can sustain 29-year careers.

At the very least, no one over 6-5 should be able to take a charge. Yes, I’m looking at you, Anderson Varejao. If a four-year-old runs into you on the street, you can’t flail backwards, land on your ass and scream at her mom for her child’s violation of your personal space. You can laugh slightly (too much laughter is uncomfortably inappropriate), say excuse me and go on your merry way. Although sometimes I wish busy street corners had refs to determine who ran into whom – and then that ref would come running in while blowing a whistle and waiving his hands in the air, stop, point and assess blame. This would probably end my delusion that everyone on the street runs into me.

Nate, Jersey City:

Why didn’t Vince Carter force those fans who sat on the Mavs bench to move over?

Because Vince Carter has the ferocity of a neutered kitten. Everyone’s been fooled over the years by his monster dunks and general showboating. Really, it’s all a cover for his insecurity. Sometimes he executes especially super awesome basketball moves and we’re immediately mesmerized, and even inclined to try the moves out for ourselves. Okay, maybe I just do this. And half the time I trip over myself, slightly twist my ankle and complain to everyone in my vicinity until someone will notice my terminal ankle sprain. “You see that red spot?!? It indicates minor swelling! SWELLING!

Seriously, athletes are tough as nails. When Dirk played in the Finals with the flu last season, I jumped on the “no big deal” train and gawked at his supposed “illness.” Except every time I get the flu I call my mother, demand a thousand pieces of toast with butter and require her to feed me medicine. With a tall glass of water, of course. And chewable pills that taste like pink.

Another time I broke my index finger and could barely lift a pencil. I walked around with one of those stupidly obnoxious finger splints for maximum injury pity. One of humanity’s favorite pastimes is recounting past trauma; but the only way to properly maximize pity is with extraneous injury paraphernalia. It’s also of paramount importance to exponentially multiply the levels of exaggeration with each retelling.

“Yeah, I was playing basketball and caught a pass weird and my finger broke.”

“I was playing basketball and went up for a block (I totally smacked his shot into the third row) but my finger hit the backboard and broke.”

“There were four seconds left and I hit a three while falling away into the stands, and my finger nailed one of the seats as I braced myself for impact.”

“I was dribbling down the court when an ALLIGATOR viciously attacked me! I fought it off with my bare hands but damaged my index finger in the process. I have the alligator’s head propped up on the wall in my house.

David, Atlanta:

If you could alter the end of any past NBA game, which one would you change?

I’d have the refs call an offensive foul against Michael Jordan for shoving Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. I’d expect MJ to throw the temper tantrum of all temper tantrums and the city of Chicago to require martial law. If the Jazz then pull out Game 7, Jordan doesn’t retire out of vengeful spite and is investigated for the murder of Karl Malone, the Chicago dynasty lasts a year or two more, Michael Jordan freezes out Kobe Bryant during the All-Star Game for being the brash and obnoxious prick who thinks he can usurp the Jordan throne, Kobe’s confidence is destroyed and no longer deserves a fireplace poker to the eye, Shaq becomes disgruntled and requests a trade from Los Angeles since there’s no talent around him, everyone realizes Phil Jackson only won because he had THE BEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME, Allen Iverson wins an NBA title with the Sixers, Jason Kidd wins an NBA title with the Nets, Reggie Miller wins an NBA title with the Pacers, pundits unnecessarily vault Iverson, Kidd and Miller 40 spots forward in the best player of all time rankings, Dwyane Wade never becomes Dwyane Wade without Shaq, LeBron doesn’t sign with Miami and stays with Cleveland, LeBron continues dunking on helpless children, Dan Gilbert doesn’t act like a four-year-old child whining for ice cream WITH SPRINKLES, the lockout never happens because the NBA is not worried about the talent actually dictating anything and Mark Cuban buys seven more sports franchises in an unsuccessful attempt to win a championship. But David Kahn is still David Kahn. See!?!?! This would most obviously send shockwaves through NBA history.

C.J., Winston-Salem, N.C.:

Shouldn’t Minnesota be better than 3-7? They have a lot of young talent and a solid coach.

Eh, not really. The problem is they’re missing stable veterans willing to grab boards, set annoyingly powerful screens and invite the youngins over to their four-kid home for family dinner. They also have Michael Beasley, who I’m pretty sure still has no idea how to run any of the offensive sets. Not to mention everyone wants to catch an alley-oop from Ricky Rubio or Kevin Love. Minnesota’s big men consistently hover around the basket if they’re not in the pick and roll, clogging the lane and hampering proper floor spacing. The Knicks have the same problem: Amar’e Stoudemire is a pick and roll player with unmatched rolling ability, but Tyson Chandler just floats around the bucket getting in the way.

The biggest problem, though, is an over-saturation of underdeveloped talent. Everyone wants minutes to show his mettle and, you know, get more minutes. J.J. Barea, Wayne Ellington, Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic, Brad Miller, Nikola Pekovic, Anthony Randolph, Luke Ridnour, Anthony Tolliver, Martell Webster and Derrick Williams are all legitimate rotation players, in some capacity. Except no rotation can handle 14 guys.

Also, Kahn needs to stop signing and drafting point guards.

That’s all for this week. Check back next week for Volume XVII.

HOW TO SUBMIT: E-mail dimebag@dimemag.com with your question/story/idea and include your name and hometown. If you really insist on being a sketchy anonymous Internet weirdo, I guess I can’t stop you. So at least provide some sort of name and location.

Follow Dylan on Twitter at @DylanTMurphy.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.