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Basketball's 3-Pointer: From Tacky Gimmick To Strategic Platform

Stephen Curry (right) of the Golden State Warriors dribbles toward Pablo Prigioni of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on Feb. 20.
Sean M. Haffey
/
Getty Images
Stephen Curry (right) of the Golden State Warriors dribbles toward Pablo Prigioni of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of a game at Staples Center on Feb. 20.

It was not that long ago when the accepted wisdom in football was that the running game had to be established — that was always the obligatory verb: established — before passes could become effective. My, we know how that has changed. Now the pass is established from the get-go, and running is an afterthought.

Well, I think it is certified now that basketball has experienced the same sort of offensive sea change. At all levels — with men and women — the 3-point shot has utterly transformed the way the game is played. More and more, the players are spread out, looking to pop behind the 3-point arc. More and more teams are, in the vernacular, "going small," with only one big man down deep. Good grief, the position of power forward is in the process of going the way of short shorts.

Click the audio to hear Frank Deford's full 2 cents on the 3-point shot.

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Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found in All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and on NPR.org.

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