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North Korea supposedly had its own wild, crazy scoring system for basketball

Dennis Rodman Kim Jong-un

Dennis Rodman’s heavily-hyped tour to North Korea last week has led to many revelations about the communist country, the most notable of which is that the country’s leaders are basketball-obsessed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a huge NBA fan and diehard follower of the 1990s Chicago Bulls, which is why he wanted Rodman to visit the country. He likely inherited his interest in basketball from his father, the deceased Kim Jong Il, who was such a big fan of the Bulls, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright brought him a signed Michael Jordan basketball as a gift when she visited the country in 2000. Kim Jong Il reportedly would watch NBA games on a satellite dish, and he even made sure there were full-court basketball courts at his homes for his sons to play.

As basketball-obsessed as he was, things must have gotten pretty confusing for Kim when he watched NBA games and then games in his country. According to a 2006 article from the San Diego Union-Tribune, North Korea had its own scoring for basketball games.

Here are the country’s supposed rules, according to the ’06 Union-Tribune article (as shared by Deadspin):

Chinese media have reported that the country even developed its own scoring system, with three points for a dunk, four points for a three-pointer that does not touch the rim and eight points for a basket scored in the final three seconds. Miss a free throw, and it’s minus one.

Just in case you doubt the veracity of this scoring system claim, keep in mind this is the same government that also supposedly told its citizens that children who play more basketball grow taller than those who don’t. Anything is fair game at this point.

Anyway, we decided this wacky scoring system was just screaming for our attention, so we decided some more analysis was in order.

By offering three points for a dunk, the country is clearly encouraging more strong play at the rim. However, by subtracting a point for missed free throws, they’re likely penalizing most of the players who would benefit from the dunking rule.

Let’s look at some players who may have benefited from or been hurt by the North Korean rules.

Players who would have benefited from North Korean rules:

    > Yao Ming – The 7-foot-6 center could not only dunk a ball anytime he wanted, but he was also an 83 percent foul shooter who went to the line over six times per game during his career. His scoring should have seen a nice boost.

    > Amar’e Stoudemire – Pre-back problems, a young Amar’e dominated in Mike D’Antoni’s offense in Phoenix and became known for his ability to finish at the rim. Not only was he an incredible dunker, but he also has shot a very respectable 76.3 percent from the line for his career, and was even over 80 percent a few seasons.

    > Kyrie Irving – The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year would have benefited from the eight points for baskets made in the final three seconds of games rule. Last season, Irving tied for second in the league with four field goals made in the final 10 seconds of a game with his team ahead or down by five points or less. This season, he’s tied for first, also with four field goals made.

Players who may have been hurt by North Korean rules:

    > Shaq – The Big Fella may have dunked more frequently than any player in history, but he also missed a ridiculous amount of free throws. Shaq attempted the third-most free throws in NBA history for his career, making just 52.7 percent.

    This stats list from 82games.com says Shaq averaged 3.39 dunks per game during the ’05-’06 season. Just looking at the ’05-’06 season, Shaq made 480 field goals. We’ll say 200 of those were dunks based on the 3.39 figure stated above. Using the North Korean system, Shaq’s scoring would have been down to 19.17 points per game from the 20 he actually averaged.

    Of course, if Shaq dunked more frequently during games, the 3-point benefit would outweigh the 1-point penalty, but he’d be hurt by the hack-a-Shaq strategy.

    > Dwight Howard – Like Shaq, Dwight is another dominant big man who dunks frequently and is fouled frequently. Howard gets to the line about 10 times per game and has only made 58 percent of his free throws during his career. That mark has sunk to an embarrassing 49.1 percent last season, and 48.3 percent this season. Each trip down the floor that Dwight or Shaq gets fouled and makes only 1-of-2 at the line turns out to be a wash for their team based on the North Korean rules.

    > Dennis Rodman – Rodman seems to have fallen in love with Kim Jong Un, but the country’s supposed scoring system would not have been great for him. Rodman was a career 58.4 percent free throw shooter. However, he took so few attempts at the line, any dunks likely would have offset his misses from the stripe.

In the spirit of the North Korean system, we thought about some other ideas that might be fun to add. Here are some ideas for additional scoring rules we would like to see incorporated:

    - One point awarded to player if he dunks his free throw (foot on the line is acceptable for this). We’ll call it the Wilt Chamberlain Rule.
    - Five points for any shot made beyond the half-court line.
    - Add one point for a buzzer-beater that comes at the end of any quarter. Make a half-court shot to end the third quarter? That’s six points for your team.

The North Korean scoring system seems entertaining, but it would have its problems. Four points are awarded on 3-pointers that don’t hit the rim. For many shots, it’s difficult to tell whether they hit the rim. Can you imagine the amount of time the referees would have to spend on instant replay? And would the mid-range jumper die a slow death in this game? If everyone is going for dunks and threes, would any other shots be attempted? Only Kim Jong Un would be able to answer that.

Have any other good ideas to add to the scoring system? Feel free to share them in the comments.


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