What is a Traditional 3-Point Play?

Ever hear broadcasters say “traditional 3-point play” after a free throw is made? Well, here’s the history behind it.

Okay, so I’ve been hearing this term -traditional 3-point play- a lot lately.

It’s often used after a player shoots a mid-range jumper or attacks the rim, gets fouled, and still makes the shot.  Then, he takes and makes the appointed free throw.

But why do broadcasters announce this? And how is it traditional?

Well, it’s traditional because the three-point line wasn’t always a thing in the NBA.

“Whaaaat! Mind blasting!”

I know. It’s fascinating.

The History of the 3-Point Line in Basketball

Back in the ancient times of the game, there was no 3-point shooting. Players only shot close or mid-range shots.

There was no point in shooting long bombs like today because every basket was worth two points.

And since pretty much every shot was near the basket (fun fact: it was an actual basket until 1906 when metal rims were introduced), it was easy to get fouled.

So, if a team needed three points to tie a game or win it, they would try to get fouled as they went in for a layup or shot a close jumper.

This went on for years… until the Hippie Era. That’s groovy, right? (I am so sorry, but I had to.)

In an effort to evolve the game and make it more challenging, the ABA introduced the three-point line -and a slew of other things, such as the dunk contest and colourful basketballs- in its launch into competitive basketball leagues back in 1967.

They also wanted to be different than the NBA (this is the main reason for them awarding perimeter shots), which was the top basketball league in the late 60s.

However, the two leagues merged in 1976 and the three-point line was shelved for a few years.

I’m not sure why but I think the NBA wanted to introduce it their way. They may have also wanted to do more research on it before employing it.

Anyway, the 3-point line was re-introduced in 1979, the same year that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson made their pro debuts, and the rest is history.

(Well, actually, not history because the “traditional 3-point play” is still a thing and actually still happens quite often, so yeah.)