When was the 3-point line introduced in the NBA?

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are two of the best 3-point shooters of all time.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are two of the best 3-point shooters of all time.

Younger fans might find it hard to imagine the NBA without a 3-point line. Shots from deep have become one of the most important aspects of modern-day basketball. Matches are regularly decided by buzzer-beating 3-pointers, with the last decade seeing some of the game’s greatest ever shooters making a name for themselves.

These include the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, with most elite NBA teams generally possessing multiple players capable of hurting opponents from distance. However, NBA basketball was played without a 3-point line for a considerable period of time. In this article, we look at the history of the 3-point line in the NBA.

When did NBA introduce the 3-point line?

The NBA introduced the 3-point line in 1979. However, it was hardly the first professional league to implement such a rule. As a matter of fact, the first known use of the 3-point line in a professional basketball league happened in the American Basketball League, back in 1961. At that time, however, the 3-point line was looked at as an over-complication of matters and was never seriously considered.

The American Basketball League ended up becoming defunct after a season and a half, with none of the other professional basketball leagues at the time taking the rule seriously. However, things changed when the American Basketball Association was formed in 1967. The ABA had various initiatives that were aimed at appeasing fans. This includes slam-dunk contests and the 3-point line.

Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry
Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry

However, it was still only after the merging of the ABA with the NBA that the 3-point line was first seriously considered. In 1976, four ABA teams - the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets - joined the NBA. However, the 3-point line was not introduced until 1979, coincidentally the rookie year of Larry Bird, who is one of the best shooters of all time.

Even after its introduction, the 3-point line was seen as a hindrance by coaches and was considered a way for the NBA to appease crowds. Quite a few players struggled to adjust with their shooting range, while some coaches were said to discourage players from taking longer shots in fear of reduced efficiency.

Regardless, the 3-point line in time has become one of the most important rules in basketball. Currently, an elite NBA shooter is not only expected to have a high level of efficiency, but shooting range as well, which is something the likes of Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard have best exemplified over the years.

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Edited by Parimal
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