Besides high school basketball, what other team sport in Maine is it illegal to practice a game skill in pregame warmups, but is legal to do so in a game?
With the recent incident of a player called for a technical foul for grasping the rim after making a successful dunk and other missed dunks in high school basketball, it is time to look at this problem of to dunk or not to dunk.
It is a technical foul if a player grasps the rim, unless he is trying to prevent an injury to himself or to a player who is directly underneath him or he loses his balance while attempting to dunk. This is a judgement call on the official’s part.
There are very few Maine high school players who can dunk without grasping the rim after attempting to dunk. I have seen many missed dunks in Maine high school and college basketball games.
What I have seen are injuries ranging from concussions to broken arms, wrists, ankles and cuts while attempting to dunk, especially off the dribble or on the move.
Dunking is a skill in itself so it really needs to be practiced if a player is going to use it in a game.
Safety dunks are dunks that are made when a player stops on both feet and is not on the move and the player usually makes the dunk with two hands.
I had a rule that the only dunks that my players could even attempt were the two-handed stop jump off two feet — and they better make the dunk.
Dunking was made illegal in pregame warmups because of the worry about damaging the equipment because the rims attached to the backboard were not breakaway rims.
Administrators did not want the problem of damaged equipment in warmups before games. Not only did it delay or postpone games, but it was expensive to replace the equipment.
Today most gyms have breakaway rims so the danger of damaging the equipment is minimal.
This is proven by the fact that the NBA allows dunking in pregame warmups and there have been few problems with equipment damage.
The main concern about the danger of dunking should not be about the safety of the equipment, but instead it should be the safety of the players.
If high school and college basketball rulemakers are going to allow players to dunk during the games then they should allow them to dunk in pregame warmups.
Dunking is a skill that needs to be practiced if you are going to safely do it in a game.
I could see this possible scenario if this rule is not changed.
A player who has not dunked in pregame starts the game by getting the ball off the tap and dribbles in for a breakaway dunk off the dribble and fails to make the dunk, crashes to the floor and is injured.
The parents of the injured player file a lawsuit against the school, claiming negligence.
The first question the lawyer asks a witness: “Why is it illegal to dunk in pregame?”
The answer: “Because we don’t want to delay the game for damaged equipment.”
Lawyer: “Would you say that dunking is a very difficult and dangerous basketball skill?”
Lawyer: “Then if that is the case why aren’t players allowed to practice dunking in pregame warmups?”
Witness: “That’s the rule.”
Lawyer: “So the answer is that the safety of the equipment is more important than the safety of the players attempting to dunk — players who aren’t allowed to warm up for this very difficult and dangerous skill?”
Lawyer: “I rest my case.”
The Rules Committee of IAABO and CBOA in the state need to decide whether it is more concerned with the safety of the equipment or the safety of the players.
If players cannot dunk in pregame warmups, then they should not be allowed to dunk in games. That used to be the rule for college and high school players.
If players are going to be allowed to dunk in a game then they should be allowed to practice this difficult skill in warmups. The players should be penalized with a technical foul in warmups if they grasp the rim while attempting to dunk.
The Rules Committee should change the rule to make it consistent for warmups and the games. If not, then it’s time to outlaw the dunk, especially in the high school game.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stated that he would never have been the offensive player he was in the NBA if he had been allowed to dunk at UCLA. Because there was a rule against dunking, he had to develop another offensive weapon, which he did, the unstoppable sky hook which he dominated the NBA with during his career.