New NBA rule clears more space on baseline

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Paul George wasn’t trying to avoid photographers. He ran into the stanchion, causing his gruesome leg injury.

Nonetheless, George’s unfortunate spill in a Team USA scrimmage re-raised important concerns about people behind the baseline.

Players high-stepping through a sea of photographers near the court has become a common sight. That doesn’t mean it should be acceptable.

Thankfully, the NBA is attempting to improve conditions with a new rule.

Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:

The new regulations, calling for an extra foot of open space on both sides of the basket stanchion, were sent to teams Tuesday by league president of operations Rod Thorn in a memo that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The “escape lanes,” the unoccupied area on either side of the stanchion to the closest photographer spot, will increase to 4 feet. Only 20 camera positions, 10 on each baseline, will remain, down from 40 during the 2010-11 regular season.

Thorn says changes were planned for “several years” and teams were informed in July

I’m sympathetic to displaced photographers, who will have a harder time doing their job now. They’re rightfully frustrated.

But player safety comes first. Making life more difficult for photographers is necessary byproduct of more important safety concerns.

This is a good change, and once we see it in effect, we can better determine whether it’s enough.