24-second shot clock
WHY did the professional National Basketball Association (NBA) peg its shot clock at twenty-four seconds starting in the 1954-55 season?
The NBA could have simply followed the 30-second shot clock rule utilized by the basketball world-governing body International Basketball Federation at the time. (The FIBA was established in 1932.)
Or the NBA could have just copied the 45-second rule implemented by the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association during its early years. (The American NCAA was founded in 1939.)
If my memory serves me right, our own pro league, the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association, pegged its shot clock at 25 seconds during its infancy in the late 1990s.
Or maybe was it the old Philippine Amateur Basketball League?
In any case, it was Danny Biasone, the owner-president of the Syracuse Nationals, who was credited for the creation of the 24-second shot clock in the NBA in 1954. It was a major rules change that would radically revolutionize the world of professional basketball and stand the test of time.
The Italian-born Biasone conceived the 24-second shot clock based on teams averaging 60 shots a game.
There are 2,880 seconds in a 48-minute game, so Biasone simply divided 2,880 by 120 (total shots for two teams) and came up with the number 24.
With the introduction of the 24-second shot clock in 1954-55, the NBA game became faster and the offense perked up. Its creation put to a stop the boring slowdown tactics employed by most teams and helped make the game exciting.
The 24-second shot clock saw its NBA debut on October 30, 1954, with the Rochester Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) winning over the Boston Celtics, 98-95.
The league’s scoring average leapfrogged from 79.5 ppg to 93.1 ppg over 72 games.
Seven of the eight member teams divided into Eastern and Western divisions broke the 90-point barrier, led by the Boston Celtics, who averaged a then record-setting 101.4 points per game (while giving up 101.5 ppg) that bettered the old league mark of 91.3 ppg that they themselves set in 1951-52.
The Minneapolis Lakers ranked second at 95.6 ppg, followed by the Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors, 93.2 ppg; New York Knicks, 92. 7ppg; and Fort Wayne Pistons, 92.4 ppg.
The Syracuse Nats normed 91.1 ppg and the Rochester Royals hit at a 90.8-point clip. While the Milwaukee (now Atlanta) Hawks hogged the cellar on team offense with 87.4 ppg, their season average was still far better the league norm of the previous eight seasons.
The eight clubs also combined to hit .385 from the field – up from .372 the previous campaign.
From 150.7 field-goal attempts per game in 1953-54, the two teams combined for 172.8 floor shots every time out during the inaugural campaign of the 24-second shot clock rule.
For record purposes, there was actually a ninth team – the Baltimore Bullets – that dropped out of the East after 14 games (3-11) following their disbandment on November 27, 1954. The Bullets’ games and team statistics and the statistics of opposing players and teams in games played against them were not included in the official NBA records.
Ironically, Biasone’s Syracuse Nationals (the forerunners of the Philadelphia 76ers), led by high-scoring 6-foot-8 forward Dolph Schayes (18.5 ppg and 12.3 rpg), were the biggest winners during the 1954-55 campaign.
Syracuse annexed the NBA title with a 4-3 decision over the Fort Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons in the Finals. The seven-game championship series saw the home team emerge victorious each time.
Biasone died in 1992 but he would always be remembered as the creator of the 24-second shot clock rule.
In 2000, Biasone was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame under the contributor’s category.
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