In sports, the adage "defense wins championships" is often cited. However, in the National Basketball Association teams need offense to win. The Milwaukee Bucks have found that out the hard way, struggling their way to a 23-36 record while shooting a league-worst 42.3% from the field. Fortunately, their season-long search for answers may have just come to an end.
At a press conference prior to a welcoming party for new New York Knicks acquisitions Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, NBA commissioner David Stern admitted the NBA has replaced the rims the Bucks have shot at with rims 16 inches in diameter all season long. A regulation NBA rim is 18 inches in diameter.
"It all started as a joke on my good friend [Bucks owner and U.S. Senator] Herb Kohl," said Stern. "I know he always enjoys a laugh and we thought it couldn't hurt the chances of keeping his friends in Congress out of our CBA negotiations." The NBA's collective bargaining agreement with its players expires June 30. Stern added that he was pleased by the cooperation and silence of Bucks' opponents and fans during the nightly halftime switch of rims.
Center Andrew Bogut used social media website Twitter to state he was glad to have an excuse other than a lingering elbow injury for his shooting slump. On the same website, point guard Brandon Jennings echoed that sentiment about his own offensive struggles.
Bucks forward Drew Gooden, sidelined much of the year with a foot injury, said he knew something was wrong early in the season. "When my inside shots wouldn't fall early on, I decided to try taking more jump shots. I figured the rim was too small and used that to imagine I was Luke Skywalker trying to blow up the Death Star," said Gooden. "I think that's what coach meant about playing with more intensity," he added.
Not all players were so sanguine about the joke. Luke Ridnour, former Bucks guard now with the Minnesota Timberwolves, said, "That [sucks]. I'm glad I'm not there anymore. I guess it all evens out, though. I remember looking up once or twice last year and the rim seemed huge." Ridnour shot a career high 47.8% for Milwaukee last season.
Bucks general manager John Hammond and head coach Scott Skiles could not be reached for comment.
When asked if the Bucks would shoot at regulation rims now that the practical joke had been revealed, Stern said, "My experience running the league has convinced me Senator Kohl does not follow league news on a daily basis." He added he planned to let the Senator in on the joke over dinner after the season. He closed the press conference enthusiastically answering questions about the developing New York Knicks-Miami Heat rivalry and his plan to offer teams with multiple All-Stars additional financial assistance in any new collective bargaining agreement.
P.S. If you really can't figure out why this isn't confirmed elsewhere, this is satire.