The reason a basketball hoop is 10-feet tall is simple: James Naismith, the inventor of the sport, nailed one of the peach baskets to a 10-foot high railing at the Springfield YMCA school in 1891. It’s been 10 feet ever since. The only differently sized rims you’ll see are smaller ones, for little kids to play on and adults to dunk on. There have been requests to move the rim: Former NBA assistant Tom Newell held an 11-foot rim exhibition game in 2007, and he wrote a story in The New York Times in 2013 headlined “Honor Basketball by Switching to 11-Foot Rims.”
Newell, concerned with “fundamentals” and “playing [the game] the right way,” is one of the few who want to raise the rim. But last night he got a surprising affiliate in his push: The NBA! Or workers at the Boston Celtics’ arena, at least. Before the game, a Warriors assistant noticed that the rim looked a bit high. Shootaround then was delayed so that NBA officials could come in and measure it. Yup, the rim that the Warriors were shooting at was a few inches high. A few inches! Newell almost got his 11-foot rim in the NBA Finals. It was fixed before tip-off of a game that the Celtics won 116-100.
If you know anything about the history of the Boston Celtics, or watched Winning Time, you know that they have a long history of what could be pleasantly called gamesmanship. “All the things you heard about Red Auerbach—most of them were true,” former Lakers director of promotion Lon Rosen said in Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. “The locker room smelled, it was dirty, disgusting. He’d have people call the players’ hotel rooms in the middle of the night so they didn’t sleep well before games. He was an incredible basketball mind, but very childish.”
This does not appear to be one of those situations. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was not uncommon—that’s more than “rare,” but less than “common”—for a rim to be off when teams arrived at an arena.
”Players have a really sharp eye for that. Players can tell,” Kerr said pregame. “I imagine somebody went out there, looked at it, didn’t look right. So as long as they take care of it, then everything is good.”