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Dear Leader Revolutionizes Basketball

Via True Hoop, via Detroit Bad Boys, comes a story involving Kim Jong Il, which automatically qualifies it as among the day's weirdest. The story focuses on Kim's love of NBA basketball, saying the dictator is avid basketball fan, experts on North Korea say, so much so that he is said to have regulation courts at most of his palaces plus a video library of practically every game Michael Jordan ever played for the Bulls.

Which is fine and all. But more interesting is this passage, about how North Korea's isolation from the world has led to an alternate universe of basketball rules.

...Basketball, with little contact with the outside world, has evolved like the tortoises in the Galapagos Islands. Chinese media have reported that the country even developed its own scoring system, with three points for a dunk, four points for a three-pointer that does not touch the rim and eight points for a basket scored in the final three seconds. Miss a free throw, and it's minus one.

Those crazy Korean ballers. Word, they're even considering this new rule where players would not be allowed to take two steps without dribbling.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 30, 2006; 11:01 AM ET
Categories:  NBA  
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The DPRK isn't the only country in the world where rules are changed according to the whims of powerful autocrats.

U.S. youth soccer is a bizarre parallel universe, too. Instead of enforcing the same rules as the rest of the planet, youth soccer leagues invent rules as they go along, based on the (in)experience of the players.

The result is that young players here in the US learn bad habits, since certain fundamental rules (offsides, dangerous play, proper throw-ins) are introduced too late in their development. They're playing some bastardized suburban variant of the Beautiful Game.

The weirdness extends to how standings are calculated. In the rest of the world, accounting is pretty simple: two points for a win, a point for a draw, no points for a loss. Ties in the standings are settled by accounting for goal difference (goals scored minus goals allowed). Easy.

But no. In America, some leagues award extra points for shutouts. There are scoring changes for games won above certain goal thresholds. There may be other mutations of which I'm not aware.

North Korea may be the hermit kingdom, but the US could do a better job of teaching its kids the rules to the sport that is the world's only reliable common language.

Posted by: ouij | October 30, 2006 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Any North Korean who can actually dunk should get 15 points. Then again, the Dear Leader probably has seven-foot rims.

Posted by: DevilGrad | October 30, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Forcing players to move AND dribble at the same time?

Truly the center of the world's Axis of Evil. We must take action now.

The NBA has a seat on the UN Security Council, right? They ought to be doing something.

Posted by: Kim | October 30, 2006 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Robert Horrey would be North Korea's leading scorer.

Posted by: sjf | October 30, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

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