NBA basket heights? Rim calibrations? It’s an exact science — luckily, the league has a guy

  • NBA writer since 2010
  • Covered Cleveland Cavs for seven years
  • Author of two books

The Golden State Warriors’ shooters are experts at their trade; their 10,000 hours spent working on their craft has trained them to be highly sensitive to its tools.

During a first-round playoff game against the Denver Nuggets in April, Jordan Poole thought something wasn’t right with the basket. First he asked his teammates, and then he alerted arena officials.

“Nobody else really saw it,” Warriors teammate Stephen Curry said. “They actually checked, and it was off center by like an inch.”

Before Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Boston last week, once again Warriors players were examining the basket with concerned looks about two hours before tipoff. It didn’t quite look right to them and, after asking for it to be checked, the basket was slightly higher than the required 10 feet.

“Players have a really sharp eye for that,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the error was found. “Players can tell.”

Despite these examples, the NBA, though, doesn’t rely solely on players’ feel. It has a detailed and old-school system in place to monitor the most basic aspects of the game, like the hoop being 10 feet off the ground, and the nuanced details, such as how tight the rim is.

The same specialist, a consultant with the league named Drew Sorenson, has been traveling to all 29 NBA arenas and calibrating the rims for the league for around 30 years. If a point has been scored on a hoop in the NBA, or even the backup stanchion that hides in the arena tunnels in case of emergency, Sorenson has been the one to examine it with his kit of tools and instruments.

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