An NBA Call to Action, by Sam Butler

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Basketball is a sport of beautiful moments. Thunderous dunks (LeBron). Filthy crossovers (Kyrie). Crafty lay-ups (IT). Devastating three-pointers (Curry). Silky fadeaways (Dirk). Powerful blocks (DeAndre). Pickpocketing steals (Kawhi). Fundamental bank shots (Tim Duncan).
But nothing beats an absolutely disgusting, no-look, behind-the-back, how-the-hell-did-he-see-that-guy-cutting-let-alone-get-the-ball-to-him pass (Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić). There’s something unequivocally beautiful about a pass that comes out of nowhere, a pass that you, as an observer who has the advantage of seeing the entire court, did not see coming. Players who can make these passes are unfortunately an endangered species, Jokić like a blue whale who can’t play defense while Lonzo is more of a snow leopard with a brutally ugly jump shot.
The ability to pass like these two requires a level of court vision that is innate, a gift ingrained from birth, one that cannot be taught.
…Or can it?
Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić coach every youth basketball player in the world.
Your first reaction, of course, is: “That’s a genius idea, Sam. Passing is key to offensive basketball, as it creates more open shots and as a result makes teams more efficient. Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić’s passing abilities are shining examples of unselfish basketball in a league that features many one-on-one-type players, and their gift should be shared at all costs.”
Your second reaction is: “How do you know exactly what I’m thinking?”
Your third reaction is: “Won’t having two people coach every youth basketball player in the world be difficult to implement?”
Yeah, it will be. But like any good organization, we can accomplish our goals through a rigidly structured hierarchy. And because of the basketball pun, the Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić Basketball Academy of America will be based on the U.S. federal court system. (Get it?)
The Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić Basketball Academy of America will be funded by taxpayer money and part of the U.S. government. Just like its archetype, we’re going to need three levels. This structure will allow scouts and coaches to pluck out the best of the best as the talent pool gradually narrows. The three levels are:
Basketball District Courts
The United States has 94 district courts, with at least one in every state, as well as DC and Puerto Rico. Ideally, the structure of our basketball hierarchy would be the same, but, let’s get real. How are we going to personally manage 94 youth-tier basketball academies in the Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić Basketball Academy of America? And how can we fairly decide which children get a chance to be a part of them? To resolve these issues, the Basketball District Courts are going to be the elementary, middle, and high schools of the United States.
Yeah. Structurally, nothing’s changed so far. Players work their way up from youth leagues to high school, playing some AAU ball on the side. But the passing will be a key focus of every basketball coach, and here’s why:
Come the finish of their junior year of high school, the top 1,300 players will be selected to move on to the next phase, and only the best passers are going to make it. Every other player is no longer legally allowed to touch a basketball. (Seriously, this basketball academy is part of the government. We have the authority.) Coaches are going to emphasize passes because they’ll have to in order to get players. Or also we can just make it a law too. Yeah, let’s do that to be safe.
Basketball Courts of Appeals (13)
Each of the 13 Basketball Courts of Appeals has its own headmaster, each an accomplished passer with his own unique specialty. Every year, the top 1,300 prospects are split into groups of 100 and assigned to a district based on which specialty they’re most likely to develop. The 13 coaches and their respective specialties are:
Jason Williams: Unnecessarily Creative
Magic Johnson: Flashiness
Rajon Rondo: Moderate Flashiness
John Stockton: Pick-and-Roll Passing
Arvydas Sabonis: Low Post Passing
Milos Teosodić: European Flashiness
Chris Paul: Everything
Ricky Rubio: Effective Flashiness
Steve Nash: Canadian Flashiness
Bill Walton: Outlet Passing
Pete Maravich: Fastbreak Passing
Jason Kidd: Accurate Passing
Manu Ginóbili: Argentinian Flashiness
Players enter the Courts of Appeals as they enter their senior year of high school, and remain on this level at least until the end of their freshman year of college, at which point they can elect to enter the draft or stay another year, much like college basketball.
Sorry college basketball fans, this will replace the NCAA. As a cost-saving measure, though, we will maintain the NCAA’s policy of televising games and profiting off of the hard work of our athletes without paying them. Ah, America.
Basketball Supreme Court
So earlier, when I mentioned the draft, did you think I meant the NBA draft? Well, you were wrong. I was of course referring to the Supreme Court Draft, where Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić select 100 players each to go through their personally designed camps. Lonzo’s camp is for all draftees under 6’8”; Jokić’s is for all draftees above. Each camp is a chance for players to get some one-on-one time with the role models of passing they’ve been working their whole lives to become.
Lonzo will teach players how to be an NBA guard who’s always looking for the open man, one whose clearly broken jump shot doesn’t scare scouts away for some reason. (He also offers counseling for players with insane fathers.) Jokić on the other hand teaches players how to use scoring as a last resort, only when it’s wide open. He teaches players how to have eyes in the back of their head when they’re in the post, how to always reward active cutters with a pinpoint pass, and how to be a complete liability on defense.
After their year in the Basketball Supreme Court, the 100 prospects declare for the NBA draft. At this point, things return to normal. Players get drafted, play in summer league, make the NBA, or fall to the G-League. They can go play in overseas leagues, they can stop playing entirely, or they can become a professional bowler à la Mitch McGary. At this point in the process, the Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić Basketball Academy of America has completed its work.
This is an overhaul not just of the basketball world, but of the U.S. government. As such, it will require a very complex and expensive implementation process. That process is outlined below, and I implore you to trust it.
  1. Every single NBA player, the NBA itself, the team owners, and anyone else who cares to donate forms a super PAC, which backs Malcolm “The President” Brogdon for President in the 2028 election (when he turns 35).
  2. The PAC also backs Bill Bradley, former New York Knick and New Jersey Senator, for Congress.
  3. Once elected, President Brogdon issues an executive order forming the Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić Basketball Academy of America. The executive order will outline the 14 courts, the coaches and their salaries, and the annual budget of the Academy.
  4. Mark Jackson, fourth on the all-time NBA assists list, is added to the President’s cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Player Development.
  5. President Brogdon suggests to Congressman Bradley that he introduce legislation to outlaw playing basketball for anyone not in the Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić Basketball Academy of America, and to require that all basketball coaches in the Basketball District Courts focus on passing. Due to the Basketball Super PAC’s overwhelming influence, the law is passed.
  6. Congress raises federal income taxes on the top 0.1% of the country to 40%, generating an extra $55 billion dollars in the first year alone. This money is used solely for the Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić Basketball Academy of America.
  7. President Brogdon uses its budget to buy the Universities of California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas, and transform each into one of the Basketball Courts of Appeals. All academic buildings are torn down and replaced with gymnasiums.
  8. The Secretary of Housing and Player Development oversees each of the 13 Basketball Courts of Appeals. He organizes their schedules and budgets, but leaves the curriculums up to the headmaster of each school.
  9. The funds are also used to buy Springfield College, honoring the location where James Naismith founded the sport, and the school is torn down to build the Basketball Supreme Court.
  10. Lonzo Ball and Nikola Jokić are each paid an undisclosed amount to run a hands-on basketball academy on the Springfield campus, Ball’s camp taking place on the western half and Jokić’s big man school on the eastern half. Players can socialize together but classes are separate, much like neighboring boys’ and girls’ schools but without the spring dances.
There are no flaws. What are you talking about?
Well, there it is. I’ve outlined a very precise and—dare I say—perfect plan to spread the passing savvy of Lonzo and Jokić to the rest of the basketball world. It may be years before the plan begins to unfold, but the time to act is now. I speak directly to you, the Ringer The readers. Readers, I want both of you to get the word out. Tweet at the NBA twitter account. Tweet at Adam Silver. Camp outside his house. Slash his tires. Kidnap his pets. Do what we need to do to make basketball the most beautiful sport it can be.