In an attempt to speed up games, the NBA will begin cracking down on the extended high-fives and pregame rituals that have become increasingly common over the years. The new policy will include a timer that begins at the end of the introduction of the starting lineups, and failure to finish everything else in the allotted time before the start of the contest will result in a delay of game, NBA spokesman Tim Frank told ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
"There's a 90-second countdown, it is placed on the clock. At 30 seconds, there's a warning horn and alert by the refs. At the end, teams need to be ready to tip off or face a delay-of-game warning."
The NBA is concerned about games beginning well after their listed start time. Several recent games have taken more than five minutes to begin after the introduction of the starting lineups, according to Windhorst. Players were told about the changes during an annual meeting with officials.
Already, there is opposition to the measures from several NBA players. Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant, for example, expressed his objection to The Oklahoman:
"I personally don't like it. Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don't make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don't agree with it, but I don't make the rules."
The Thunder are one team that would be affected by the rules. Over the past few years, they had become known for a drawn-out routine of handshakes and hugs before games. With the new rules in place, the Thunder will need to speed that routine up considerably to fit it under 90 seconds.