You've noticed, if you've been watching the NBA's overlong preseason, that it is dreaded "point of emphasis" time — the phase of preseason in which officials go crazy calling all sorts of things they haven't generally called much when the games count, but swear they will this season. It's a warning shot: "Unlearn this behavior now, because we'll continue punishing you when the real games start."
And nobody believes it. People within the league are skeptical that officials will stick to these strict new interpretations if doing so slows down games that already last too long. And fans, justifiably, have cried out against zealous enforcement that introduces more pauses into a sport that already has too many — and isn't meant for such stop-and-start action. The poster children so far have been the comically over-whistled delay-of-game calls when a player on a team that scores a basket touches the ball after it goes in. That's a clear no-no in the rule book, since a team switching from offense to defense can delay the opponent's transition game by taking the ball, rolling it toward the baseline, or lobbing it very politely — and very slowly, with a ridiculous arc and softness — to a referee.
The NBA will officially announce Thursday what Grantland reported two weeks ago — that the league will pay for the installation of data-tracking cameras, and the attached software, at all 29 NBA arenas (the Clippers and Lakers share an arena). This is a sort of endgame for STATS, proprietor of the SportVU camera technology, which entered the league in the 2010-11 season with a half-dozen eager subscribing teams. I’ve written about the technology several times, so I won’t go deep into the basics here. Suffice it to say the cameras track the movement of every object on the court — players, referees, the ball — several times per second, providing a new path to answering questions small and grand.
The potential impact on our understanding of the game, of its flow and X's-and-O's, is fascinating. The NBA has become the first major U.S. sports league, and perhaps the first in the world, to invest this heavily in motion-tracking. But the cameras will touch on lots of other areas of profound importance to basketball’s future that have gotten short shrift amid the hoops-related curiosity.
On Sunday afternoon, Michael Vick acted like a human being. Given the reaction that move got, I highly doubt we’ll ever see him act like one again.
After losing to the New York Giants, in a game in which Vick injured his right (non-throwing) hand and took multiple shots to the head, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback finally went on the offensive, and questioned whether he was getting the same protection afforded to other quarterbacks around the league.
This is what he said: "I just think more precautions should be taken when I'm inside the pocket. If you look at all the replays, I'm on the ground every time and it's unfortunate for myself and it's unfortunate for my team and I'll be lying if I said I wasn't, if I were to sit here and say I wasn't frustrated right now because of that."