Jerry Brewer: Radical idea provokes thoughts of a purer game

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Seattle Times sports columnist Jerry Brewer analyzes the "For the Love of the Game" exposition...

To be a purist now, you have to be a futurist. To show people the right way, you have to accept they'll first consider it wrong.

Newell scared the dunks right out of basketball with his higher rims, and it was boring at first glance. To be honest, it was boring at second and third and fourth glance, too. But after thinking it over, the purpose of this day outshined my pre-programmed beliefs.

Players who had practiced together for about 10 hours were sharing the ball. Fans were cheering passes. Big men were getting the ball during an exhibition game! It took only one hand to count the number of bad shots.

Yes, the dunk was missed. At halftime, I was hoping Nate Robinson and Josh Smith would magically appear and put on an impromptu dunk contest at 11 feet. It didn't happen. Oh, well. At least players weren't tossing up foolish fadeaway jumpers all game.

"If you did see any fadeaways, they were short," joked forward Ryan Rourke, a Bothell native who scored 11 points.

When asked if the height of the goal made the players take better shots, Rourke said: "You don't second guess yourself as you take shots, but it's in the back of your mind. You're more focused on getting good looks. I don't think players were shooting the ball just to shoot it."

It's weird watching 6-foot-8 players not be able to elevate and dunk. You start thinking it's gimmick basketball. But upon reflection, you realize the game was never meant for great athletes to cheat it.

That's the problem with United States hoops right now. The U.S. doesn't thrive in international competition, even with NBA stars, because it values individual brilliance over crafty team play.

For the last few years, those who love American basketball have pondered one question: How do we change?

Read the full story here and additional commentary in Jerry's blog.  Jerry originally started to write his column about how he missed the dunk.  He eventually concluded "I really think raising the goal to 11-feet is a good idea that I'd like to see more of."

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