We should just come right out and say it: We’re not the biggest NBA fans on earth. In fact, the only time we could remember ever showing enthusiasm for the game was back when Michael Jordan was the king of the court. And even then, we never felt the need to see replays of his games, which is weird, considering the number of times we’ve seen Space Jam (six times!)
Of course, not being the biggest fans of the sport and knowing some interesting things about it are mutually exclusive things. Sure, we may not know everyone in Miami Heat’s lineup (or the San Antonio Spurs’ for that matter); but we do know that there’s only one game to go before one of them is declared champion for this year’s NBA finals. We also know four NBA technologies that anyone with a geeky bent, even those with nary an interest in anything related to sports, will find worth knowing.
#1 Shot Clock
We didn’t realize that other sports such as water polo, snooker, and even ten-pin bowling use a shot clock. All this time, we really thought that shot clocks are exclusive to basketball. Well at least we have another tidbit to add to our collection of trivia (useless and useful alike). Anyway, just in case you have never watched a basketball game in your entire life, a shot clock is a timer designed to speed up the game’s pace. It was invented by Daniel “Danny” Biasone for the 1954-55 season of the NBA who, prior to the invention of the shot clock, saw that NBA teams were averaging 79.5 points a game. With Biasone’s shot clock (set at 24 seconds), teams were prevented from stalling, average points per game increased, and saved the game from being passé.
#2 Digital Whistles
Ordinary whistles from just any old athletic supply shop won’t do for the NBA. They have to be digital whistles so that when a referee blows on one, the clock is stopped. Yes, the whole thing reeks of black magic (at least, we would like to imagine that that’s how these babies work); but the technology used here is quite simple. For the specific model used by the NBA, the clock, which is hooked to a Daktronics scoreboard controller, stops when “the precise three frequencies that compose its sound are picked up by a digital sensor from PrecisionTime.”
#3 Breakaway Rims
Counted among the 20 biggest tech advancements in sports history, the breakaway rims were introduced in 1978 to allow players to dunk the ball without shattering the backboard. Breakaway rims also help players reduce the risk of sustaining wrist injuries, especially for people like David Thompson and Dr. J Daryl Dawkins, who aggressively play above the rim. In terms of revolutionizing things, you can say that breakaway rims are very much like VoIP (more), which changed the telephony landscape for the better. Arthur Ehrat is credited for having invented the breakaway rim, and he was awarded a patent for this invention in 1982.
#4 Basketball Shoe Technology
Believe it or not, there is a legitimate reason why basketball shoes are so expensive. Back in the day, Converse—and not Nikes—ruled the court. Yes, Converse, as in those canvass sneakers with rubber soles. As a proud collector of Chucks, we can honestly say that they’re not the most comfortable pairs to run in. We love them, no doubt about it; but if we were playing basketball, we probably wouldn’t make it to the fourth quarter (also because our athletic skills leave much to be desired). Anyway, after the introduction of Nike Air Force 1, which featured a pocket of air in the sole for more cushioning/shock absorption to the league in 1982, more advances to basketball shoe tech started appearing. These days, Zig Slash, Athletic Propulsion, Hyperfuse, and other amazing sneaker technologies are pretty commonplace, well, commonplace enough to lure sneakerheads into parting with their money.