Friday, October 11, 2013

Syracuse, New York: 24-Second Shot Clock

The National Basketball Association had a problem in the 1950s - the games were getting boring.

Teams that thought they were outmatched realized their best chance to win was slow the pace of the game to a crawl. When one contest ended up 19-18, it was time to do something.

Danny Biasone was the owner of the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA at the time, and he attacked matters in a most logical way. A shot clock had been discussed by the league, so Biasone and general manager Leo Ferris counted the number of shots in a well-paced scrimmage staged in a local high school. Sixty shots per game per team seemed about right, so he divided that into the number of seconds in a game. It came out to be 24 seconds, and that became the time limit for shooting.

You probably could argue that it saved the league, which was still struggling financially. The plan was eventually adopted by leagues around the world, and even made it into the college game after a few decades.

Biasone was recognized for his good work with this display near Armory Square in downtown Syracuse. All surviving Syracuse Nationals were invited to the dedication ceremony in 2005. It's on South Franklin St. By the way, Armory Square now houses a museum, and is quite an interesting neighborhood these days with all sorts of restaurants and shops. Looks like it's worth a good-sized visit.

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