North Korea’s Totally Insane Basketball Rules

It’s no secret that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un loves basketball. He has a longstanding fondness for the 1990s Chicago Bulls and a particular admiration for Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman. In 2013, he invited Rodman to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, to arrange a basketball match. The “Supreme Leader” and “The Worm” hit it off and have been friends ever since.  

Within the Hermit Kingdom, basketball is played with an odd and peculiar set of scoring rules. According to Chinese media, the rule changes were initiated by Kim Jong Un’s father, former North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il, from whom the younger Kim had inherited the title upon his death in 2011. It’s believed that Kim Jong Un has added a few of his own amendments to the regulations. 

Just for fun, here is a rundown of North Korea’s unusual basketball rules, and the scenarios they may produce if they were to be adopted by the NBA: 

1.) Slam dunks are worth three points.

Spectacular dunks are definite crowd-pleasers. A monster jam can provide a psychological boost to a team and demoralize an opposing squad. With a rule like this, NBA players will go for a slam every time they get the chance–which honestly isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe give four points for alley-oops and three-sixties?   

2.) Three-point shots are awarded four points if the ball doesn’t touch the rim. 

Unless the NBA devises a rim with electronic sensors that’ll sound off when a successful three-point shot isn’t completely “nothing but net,” this rule won’t be achievable. Referees won’t be able to determine whether a shot from beyond the arc should be given four points instead of three with utmost accuracy and certainty. If an electronic arbitration system can be worked out, three-point snipers like Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Trae Young would surely approve.    

3.) One point is deducted for every missed free throw shot. 

Notoriously lousy free throw shooters such as Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal wouldn’t be the legends that they are today if the NBA had this rule in place during their active playing careers. Players like the Charlotte Hornets’ Bismack Biyombo, who has a 55.2% free-throw shooting average would never have been drafted. NBA teams will require at least a 70% free throw shooting average for prospective draftees, especially for big men.  

A team that’s trailing by 20 or more points in the fourth quarter can win without taking a single shot. All they have to do is foul the worst free-throw shooter from the opposing team whenever he attempts a bucket. As a result, matches will last indefinitely and conclude without much action. Game attendance and TV viewership will drop significantly.  

4.) Any field goal made in the last three seconds of a game is given eight points. 

This is perplexing considering that all the other rules are tailored to bolster excellence and performance. The rule favors blind luck over steady hard work. Think of the Los Angeles Lakers leading by seven points in the last three seconds of an NBA Finals game only to lose by one point with a clutch buzzer-beater from James Butler.  

5.) Games can end in a tie. 

Although it was played under traditional basketball rules, the game that Kim and Rodman witnessed in 2013 ended in a 110-110 tie. Now imagine Game 7 of the NBA Finals ending in a tie, with both teams proclaimed champions.   

North Korea’s basketball rules administer excessive penalties, heap unjustified rewards and encourage questionable tactics. As such, chaotic and comical sequences of events, along with extended periods of utter boredom, are bound to arise in every game.  

No reputable league, much less the NBA, will ever adopt any of these guidelines. Perhaps Kim Jong Un should quit messing with basketball and just stick to what he does best–despotism and plotting world domination. 

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  1. freddie merc


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