The Olympic games have ended with Team USA winning their fourth gold medal in a row, proving once again the rest of the world still needs to step up if they want to challenge the US. Even though there were some initial concerns regarding Team USA's ability to adjust to the FIBA rules, it took them a couple of games to figure things out, and when they did, they were pretty much unstoppable.
Watching basketball in the Olympics brought excitement because the games are different from the NBA, primarily because of different rules that are applied and in place. Luka Doncic previously said it's easier to score in the NBA than in Europe, and Damian Lillard said the same thing after the Olympics ended. It's a more physical style of play where you don't see star players bait for fouls or get some questionable calls in their favor because they are superstars. FIBA rules eliminate that from happening, which was an eye-opener for many US fans of the sport that rarely have the opportunity to see international basketball.
NBA analyst and commentator Bill Simmons talked about international basketball being better than the NBA on his podcast. Simmons brought up some excellent points on why international rules bring back the excitement to the game, making it feel more authentic, especially for the fans.
The flow to it, which we notice every four years is just better. There's a couple of little things they have there, like this unsportsmanlike foul rule where the refs is just like, 'That is a unsportsmanlike foul, we are not reviewing it. Just take your two f***ing free-throws, I don't like what you did there. It's almost like hockey. And then the guy is shooting free-throws and the moment is over and we move on. Players don't complain. I think the biggest thing I've noticed from these games - the refs have so much more control. We don't have guys selling fouls. You try lurch into guys in Olympic basketball, they're not calling it. You try barrell down the lane without a plan to do some layup and expecting a call, you're not getting it. It feels like a more authentic basketball game to me. If I was running the NBA I would really be looking at this stuff and being like 'How can we get better? What can we learn from this?
Bill Simmons, via The Ringer
For the past few years, we've heard fans and NBA analysts complain about the rules in the NBA and how the defense is no longer being played, and how players on offense have all the freedom and power to impact the game. Star players have more power than anyone else, and a few of them are constantly protected by the refs, which is definitely not the case in international basketball. Maybe the NBA will look into some of the things FIBA is doing and hopefully implement some of the rules to the NBA to make the game more exciting.
NBA is quite progressive when it comes to adapting and introducing new rules that can potentially improve the quality of their product. Hopefully, they will listen to the fans and their arguments for adopting changes that will further make the game more appealing and exciting than it is right now. The Olympic tournament was sort of an eye-opener on what changes would be beneficial, and hopefully, we'll see them introduced to the NBA sooner than later.