The 2012-13 season, for example, will feature a wacky rule that requires teams to use two imports in the first and third quarters. Forget about logic and having the normal flow of the game determine which five players a coach puts on the floor. Nope, not in the bj-league. Forget about real coaching; that won't be allowed based on this momentum-suffocating requirement.
A mathematical formula will require teams to have a maximum 2/5ths of their lineup consist of imports for half a game and for the second and fourth quarters that number can be three imports per team, or 3/5ths of their on-court performers.
Does that make sense to you? I doubt it.
Is half the game more important than the other half? No.
But that's the message the league office has forced teams to abide by.
With nonstop expansion (six teams in 2005-06 to 21 for the 2012-13 campaign) for nearly a decade now in a country that lags behind nearly the entire the world in terms of quality basketball players, there is no realist who'll tell you there are enough good Japanese players to suddenly make a greater impact for half the game throughout the season. (This is doing the Japanese pros a disservice, in fact; as the only way Japanese will continue to get better is by facing the best possible competition as often as possible. And that better competition happens to be the imports in the league.)
Quality of play is not the reason for change, of course. It's a cost-cutting measure. (Many teams will now pay the salary of four imports instead of five. The investment on more foreign players, though, is the right one, one that would help the league continue to get better quality Japanese players and better overall competition, day in and day out.)
But is the financial savings going to put more fans in the stands?
Is that going to give the league more revenue?
Is that going to create a much-needed rise in national media coverage?
I hate to say I told you so, but the answers are: No, no, no.
Don't expect the bj-league to have better games this season. Each game will be a game within a game, when three Japanese are required on the floor for each team 50 percent of the time, and the other 50 percent when only two must be there.
Professional athletes need to earn playing time by being, well, good enough to play whenever a coach puts them into the game, and puts them into the game without an absurd pre-determined quota.
By the way, this new rule, an extension of the lousy second-quarter only quota in place for the past two seasons, will also reduce the statistics of many players. Players want to win, they also want to dominate stat categories.
More than a few players will be turned off by the above rule and take their game to another country, knowing they won't post the "big stats" that may get them attention for a shot to play in a big-time league or, you never know, earn a tryout for an NBA team.
Comissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi's league has made a terrible mistake by instituting this rule. That's obvious.