Focus on developmental league

INDIANAPOLIS — INDIANAPOLIS - NBA commissioner David Stern went into more detail yesterday about the new developmental league in the works for the 2001 season.

Speaking during the meeting with the media he conducts during the NBA Finals each year, Stern said that in order to be in the National Basketball Development League, players will have to be 20 or older by Nov. 1 of the year they intend to begin to compete.


He said NBA executives decided to go with their own league rather than become partners with the International Basketball League, which includes the Baltimore BayRunners, or Continental Basketball League to keep up the level of interest in small- to mid-size cities that might be host to these franchises.

"Although we're in constant communication with the IBL, the IBA, the CBA ... the ownership and direction of our own development league is critical," the commissioner said


Stern said he wanted to make it clear that the league is in no way designed to compete with college basketball. He said that is the reason players must be 20 to enter, although there will be exceptions for players drafted out of high school who do not make NBA teams.

He said he will have more details concerning this in the fall.

Among other things Stern and deputy commissioner Russ Granik discussed:

They said it is likely that Detroit Pistons forward Grant Hill will miss the Olympics, possibly opening up a spot on the U.S. team for Lakers guard Kobe Bryant or Charlotte Hornets guard Eddie Jones. And it appears that San Antonio forward Tim Duncan will be able to compete in Australia.

"Hack-a-Shaq" will remain. Stern said the league has no plans to stop what many teams in the playoffs have turned to in attempting to beat the Lakers.

Fouling center Shaquille O'Neal to send him to the free-throw line late in the game is not a problem worth pursuing, according to the commissioner.

"Our feeling is that that's a strategy that two teams employed without great success," Stern said. "And for us to be running to create some new rule in response to that just doesn't seem logical."

For those who can barely stay awake during the last two minutes of an NBA game because of the large number of timeouts, help may be on the way soon.


The league is working on reducing the number of timeouts each team is allowed by one, and allowing teams to advance the ball to halfcourt after a 20-second timeout. Also, in the last two minutes, teams will be allowed to throw the ball into the back court if they inbound on their end.

That, in theory, should relieve some of the back-to-back timeouts teams call when they have trouble inbounding the ball.

No word on Bryant

Bryant's status for tomorrow's Game 4 is still unknown, although the Lakers guard said he will probably play.

Bryant sprained his ankle in Game 2 and sat out of the third game. He is officially listed as day-to-day. He did say the ankle was causing him pain.

The decision apparently will come down to whether he can practice today.


Game 3 ratings up

Sunday's Game 3 drew an overnight rating of 13 and a 22 share, an increase of 5 percent from last year, according to NBC.

Last year's Game 3 between the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs, played on a Monday night in prime time, drew a 12.4/21.

The national rating for Friday night's Game 2 was a 9.9/20, an increase over the 9.6/19 garnered by NBC for Game 2 between the Knicks and Spurs.

Overnight ratings, taken in major markets, have been up for each of the first three games of the finals compared with a year ago.

But the broader national ratings for Game 1 and Game 2 were down by 4 percent, from an average of 10.6/20 in 1999 to this year's 10.2/19. A national rating for Game 3 was not yet available.


The Associated Press contributed to this article.