That brief time in the 90s when the 3-point line was shorter
The 3-point line was originally adopted into the NBA for the 1979-80 season as an effort to compete with the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) adoption of new rules meant to make the game more exciting and to steal away NBA fans. Though it was mainly used as a gimmick, the concept stuck and is now an integral and exciting part of the basketball millions of fans love to watch.
Since its adoption, the 3-point line has evolved the game to the “small ball” that so many former and current players feel the game has shifted toward. Players like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and Klay Thompson have created the ability for teams to both spread their offense while piling on many points in short period of time. While athletic big men will always be valuable in the game of basketball, smaller shooters have become a highly targeted asset for every team in the league.
But did you know that, in the 90s, the distance of the 3-point line changed for a couple years?
That’s right. From the beginning of the 1994-95 season through the end of the 1996-97 season, the 3-point line went from 23 feet, 9 inches (22 feet at the corners) to a uniform 22 feet (6.7 m) around the basket.
The change was made as a result of below average scoring games in the seasons leading up to the rule change. Though the average number of 3-point attempts per game increased by over 50 percent, the line was moved back to the original distance after the 1996-97 season because the change had actually lowered the average score of games. In the three seasons leading up to the new rule, teams averaged 105.6 points per game. In the three seasons with the shorter 3-point line, that average fell to 100.8.
Of course, this period of time directly coincides with the Chicago Bulls’ second back-to-back-to-back championships, so there are bound to be some crazy conspiracy theorists that believe the change was made to help the Bulls win more championships.
Nowadays, we hear all sorts of rumors about a 4-point line that would extend even further out. While this might be adopted anytime soon, it would certainly be fun to watch and could possibly create a whole new category of players who specialized in long-range shots. Until then, we’ll just have to settle for Curry taking 3-pointers from 30 feet out.
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