North Korea Invented Its Own, Totally Different Way Of Scoring Basketball Games

Dennis Rodman's bizarre visit to North Korea has led to many dissections of North Korea's strange relationship with basketball—or rather, the Kim family's strange relationship with basketball—and one happy consequence is the opportunity to remember that, despite the Kim family's love for the NBA, they sometimes ignore NBA rules and instead score basketball games like the nut-jobs they are.

From Foreign Policy, which dug up an old San Diego Union-Tribune piece on the Kims' infatuation with basketball:

Chinese media report that North Korea has developed its own scoring system for the game: three points for a dunk, four points for a three pointer that doesn't touch the rim, and eight points for a basket scored in the final three seconds. (This rule is ... intriguing? The endings of North Korean basketball games must be cutthroat!) A missed free throw means minus-one point.

The missed free throw rule is a bad one because it makes Hack-A-Shaq-type strategies and their descendants more tempting; intentionally fouling has a big enough role in the game already. Perhaps North Korean players are, on average, better free throw shooters. The swished three pointer rule is interesting but it's hard to imagine how referees rule on a lot of shots—for example, is this a swish? I'd argue that it hits back rim, but concede that I'm not 100% sure, and moreover, if you're allocating extra points for pretty shots, that one deserves the point regardless.


Other than that? Crazy, but in a strategic way. North Korean sports officials—or Kim Jong-Il himself—obviously designed these rules to make the game more consistently entertaining, and I'm hard-pressed to argue that an 8-pointer in the last three seconds wouldn't be exciting, or that I don't want to see more dunks. How much more valuable would players like Kenyon Martin and Blake Griffin be if dunks were worth three points? And would this have been 13 points—he shoots with 3.5 on the clock—or 18?

As Foreign Policy notes, it's not clear whether the Globetrotters played according to North Korean or American rules during the game Rodman and Kim watched this week, but if it was the former, things probably got a little crazy.


The Oddest Fan [San Diego U-T]
The Kims' Long Love Affair With Basketball [Foreign Policy]