The three-point field goal, which has a good chance of becoming a reality in the NBA next season, will be a godsend for some teams and just another way to lose for others. Nevertheless, it will give the league a much needed boost in excitement.
For Louie Dampier, the best three-point shooter in the ABA, it also may add a few years onto an already distinguished career.
"The league (ABA) was guard oriented the first two years and they encouraged us to put up those bombs," Dampier said yesterday, "but when we got guys like Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore, we started going inside. Also, I matured as a player and I knew when and when not to throw it up."
In nine seasons with the Kentucky Colonels, Dampier made 794 of 2,217 three-point attempts.
Dampier launched a league record 552 three-point bombs in 1968-69, his second year in the ABA, but shot fewer and fewer each season thereafter. In the final year of the ABA, 1975-76, HE HAD ONLY 87 ATTEMPTS, AND MADE 32.
THE PROBLEM NBA coaches may have with the three-point shot in its first season will be getting players to know when not to take it.
"Some people will do crazy things with the basketball," said Seattle guard Fred Brown, one of the best long shooters in the game today.
"There will be guys who think they can make it every time, so they'll be launching it. I think a lot of teams are going to lose more games because of it than they are going to win because of it."
Bullet General Manager Bob Ferry agreed.
"It can help you win games, but it won't make you a winner," he said. "Disciplined teams usually win and they will use the three-point goal only at strategic times when they really need it."
Dampier believes that because the NBA is now so big-man oriented, and most teams are patient enough to work the ball inside, the biggest effect the three-point goal will have is at the end of a game.
"It will be easier for a team to catch up," he said. "There is the possibility that a team can make up six points in less than 30 seconds. I think that will get the crowd up, too."
Getting the crowd up is a major reason why the NBA coaches and general managers passed the rule.
"Anything that gets the fans more involved has to be good for the game," said Al Attles, Golden State coach and general manager.
In the ABA the three-point goal was called a home run. In some arenas a giant gong was hit or sirencs were set off when the home team connected.
The NBA experimented with the three-point goal in the exhibition season last year, but it was not very successful. Three points were awarded for a shot made from 22 feet away, but it had to be from out front. The three-point line went only to the free throw line extended.
Like the ABA, the NBA will paint a three-point line on the floor three feet in bounds on the sidelines to the free throw line extended, and then arching to 23 feet 9 inches away from the basket out front. That means a 22-foot shot from the corner or sides, also will be worth three points.
According to Dampier, that is how three-point shots will open up the game.
"By opening up the corners like that, you make the guards and forwards play their men out there," he said.
Obviously, there are some teams and individuals that will benefit a great deal from the new rule. When one thinks of long range bombers, the names that come to mind are Brian Winters of Milwaukee, Brown of Seattle and Lloyd Free and Randy Smith of San Diego.
But Dampier said the key is to have forwards who can shoot the long shot, because they will be standing out in the corners.
Dampier cringes when he thinks about playing Houston if the three-point rule is approved. The Rockets have perhaps the two best long-shooting forwards in Rudy Tomjanovich and Rick Barry.
"With them as legitimate three-point threats in the corners, you have to go out there and that leaves the middle open for Calvin Murphy to drive or Moses Malone to get whatever shot he wants," Dampier said.
There are two schools of thought on just how far a 22-25 foot shot is, and how difficult it is to shoot. For players like defending NBA scoring champion George Gervin, Brown and Free, (who use their arms and legs on their shots just as much as they use their wrists) the three-point goal is well within their range.
But the majority of NBA players are wrist shooters. From beyond 18 feet they have to change their shot to reach the basket.
Twenty-two feet from the center of the rim would put a player three feet in bounds on the side. Twenty-three feet 9 inches out front would put him nearly three feet beyond the top of the free throw circle.
"A lot of writers and announcers will say a guy made a 22-footer when actually it was only a 17- or 18-footer," Dampier said. "Twenty-two feet is a long way."
Bullet Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff doesn't feel it is.
"Fifteen feet is considered a good shot and 22 feet is only seven more," he said.
"It might help solve some of the problems with zones," he added. "If you want to sit back and clog the middle, you might end up paying for it now. It's also going to take teams a while to familiarize themselves with it and figure out how they want to use it, though."
Fred Brown doesn't feel too many coaches are going to design plays for three-point field goal attempts, much to his chagrin.
"I envision some coaches using it as a game winner, but most of the better coaches will probably go for a tie if they can instead of a three-point spectacular win," Brown said. "It does make the game a little more intriguing, though."
Will Brown, the consummate long range shooter, will be eyeing the three-point shot every chance he gets.
"I won't be thinking about it at all," he said. "In the normal course of the game I'll probably take seven or eight shots from there now anyway. You always want to get in closer on every shot. A glory person or a showman will probably try to shoot the three-pointer all the time. A guy who can hit that shot will definitely be an asset, though, and I can hit that shot."
The possibility of the three-point field goal may make the NBA a game for specialists.
"It makes you look at your roster a little closer," said Detroit Coach Dick Vitale. "You might have to draft a long shot specialist."
The best of the long shooters in this year's draft is probably UCLA's Brad Holland. He is marginal commodity right now, but if the owners approve the three-point field goal, he may suddenly became valuable. CAPTION: Picture, Louis Dampier