BASKETBALL; Barry's radical suggestion

Critics of pro basketball are fond of saying that to view a game only requires watching the last two minutes. The waning moments, the theory goes, is when all those baskets, seemingly scored at will throughout most of the game, finally count for something.

Realizing that there may be some truth to this, perhaps enough to hinder the National Basketball Association's TV ratings, Rick Barry recommends making the NBA game more like tennis.

Interviewed in Sport magazine, Houston's veteran forward said he would make each half into a mini-game in much the same way tennis matches are divided into sets. The winner of each half gets a point, and if the same team wins both halves the game is over. However, if there is a one-one tie, a five-minute overtime is played.

Using this format, "the intensity of play is increased throughout," Barry explains. "And if a team falls far behind in the first half, a [TV] viewer may go to another channel, but he'll come back for the second half."

Since quite a few games would go into overtime using Barry's scheme, he suggests shortening the length of a quarter from 12 to 10 minutes. This way, players accustomed to playing 48 minutes would still have something left for the extra period.

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