NBA Makes Mountain Out Of Molehill, Partially Blames Buddy Hield

Photo: Streeter Lecka (Getty Images)

Remember when it was discovered that Buddy Hield’s birthday was incorrectly listed on the official sites of the NBA and the Sacramento Kings—along with ESPN, Basketball Reference, and Draft Express—and it was reported as one of those quirky things that makes the NBA oh-so-fun? Well, if the league has its way, there will likely be a host of teams that will remember that story as a lot less fun given what the NBA wants to use that moment as a springboard for, according the Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Of course, the part that stands out about what Stein tweeted out was not so much the part about players’ ages—Hield, for what it’s worth, insists he had nothing to do with the wrong birth year—but the bit about heights. Lying about heights has been a bit of a staple in the league for a number of reasons, as Chris Herring explored in the Wall Street Journal back in 2016. Players do it so they can fit into the physical archetype of different positions. Kevin Durant, for example, is listed at 6-foot-9 because, in his words, “that’s the prototypical size for a small forward,” though he’s likely closer to 6-foot-11. Kevin Garnett famously avoided being listed at 7 feet so he didn’t have to play center, and teams have played along with the desires of both players.

This isn’t to say that this new rule is destroying a long-standing institution that’s sacred to the sport, but it is a shame that one of the funnier things about the league has to go away because of hazy administrative concerns. While Stein notes Hield’s story, the likelier cause of this has to do with gambling gaining an increasing foothold in the business of basketball. In fact, Matt Moore of the Action Network reported earlier this month that this was a shared sentiment among some coaches and executives he spoke to with regards to this new push for transparency from teams.

Personally, I’m looking forward to when the league, at the behest of bookies everywhere, starts demanding that the medical histories of every player on the floor get passed out to the crowd before tip-off.

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