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How Many Dashes Does It Take to Draw a Semicircle?

As you may have heard or noticed, the Mavericks have added two silhouettes of Dirk Nowitzki to their court design this season. You can see one of them right in the center of the photo shown above.

But Twitter-er @nomuskies noticed something else about the Mavs’ new court design. Look at the lower part of the free throw circle — the part that’s in the lane. See how it consists of 10 dashes?

That, it turns out, is really unusual. If you look around the NBA, you’ll find that the standard format for the lower part of the circle is six dashes, not 10. Here are some examples, all with six dashes (some of these pics aren’t from this season, but I’ve looked around and six dashes still appears to be the current standard; for most of these, you can click to enlarge):














I could go on, but you get the idea. Six dashes is definitely the default design for the lower part of the circle. By going with 10 dashes, the Mavs are clearly breaking the mold. In fact, the Mavs themselves had six dashes prior to this season:

It’s hard to express how much I love this. While I’m not the biggest basketball fan, I’ve been watching pro hoops for nearly half a century now and have never once thought about how many dashes are in the lower part of the circle. One of the best things about Uni Watch is that it makes me (and I hope you) think about things that had never even occurred to me before.

When you think about it, the dashed line is kind of weird. The reason the circle is there, of course, is in case there’s a held ball that results in a jump ball at that end of court. But what does the part of the circle that’s in the lane need to be dashed? Why can’t it be a solid line? (I assume there’s a good reason for this, and that the more hoops-savvy among you are already scrolling down to the comments to enlighten me. Thanks in advance!)

But get this: If you go the NBA’s official court guidelines, their diagram shows … wait for it … 10 dashes (click to enlarge):

In other words, the Mavs’ new 10-dash semicircles are right, and all the other courts, with their piddly six-dash semicircles, are wrong. Who’da thunk?

Even better: When the Mavs announced their new court design earlier this month, they released a mock-up with … wait for it … six dashes:

So the mock-up doesn’t match the actual court. Curiouser and curiouser!

Is this something that has changed over the years? Maybe 10 dashes was the old-school way and six is the newfangled style? I chose a random moment from NBA history — the 1970 Finals, when injured Knicks center Willis Reed famously started the game and scored the Knicks’ first four points of the game. Let’s take a look:

Six dashes. So that style has been around for a long time. Hmmmm.

Are six dashes and 10 dashes the only two configurations? Has there ever been an eight-dash semicircle? Seven? Nine?

Meanwhile: College courts don’t have any dashes. They don’t include the lower part of the circle, because the college game doesn’t have jump balls at the free throw line (click to enlarge):

(I’m not sure why college hoops doesn’t have jump balls at the ends of the court — but again, I assume someone out there will enlighten me, yes?)

I love this topic. I don’t know nearly as much about basketball courts as I do about, say, baseball fields or football fields, so it’s entirely possible that I’m leaving out some relevant info here or even missing an important point entirely. But whatever — a fun rabbit hole! Let’s discuss.

(Big, big thanks to @nomuskies for getting this ball rolling, and also to @SacKings_Unis for the official NBA court diagram.)

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World Series recap: I figured the last baseball game of the year called for a hot dog, and it was also the first use of my Uni Watch 20th-anniversary plate, whoop-whoop! (Yes, I know some of you think the capers look like rabbit turds or deer scat or whatever. But hey, at least I didn’t cook the hot dog with mayonnaise.)

As for the game:

• So much for home field advantage! All seven games of this World Series were won by the visiting team, something that’s never happened before. The previous record for a visiting team winning streak at the start of a Series was five games.

• As expected, the Nationals wore their navy alternate jerseys for all seven games. As noted last week in my World Series Preview, this is unusual but not unique. Cleveland did the same thing in 2016.

• The Nats became the fourth consecutive champions to wear a solid-colored alternate jersey in the deciding game, following the Red Sox (2018), Astros (2017), and Cubs (2016). The last team to win the title wearing white or grey? The Royals (2015).

• As usual, Nats shortstop and NC State alum Trea Turner wore Wolfpack headgear — two different kinds this time — for the clubhouse celebration and the postgame interview.

• Last night’s game marked the end of the MLB’s Majestic uniform era and also the end of maker’s marks appearing on the sleeve. Come next spring, the mark of the beast will be on the chest of all MLB jerseys — sigh. (So far, the only indication we have of how this will look is this.)

Congrats to the Nats and their fans (and especially to longtime reader/supporter Max Weintraub, who wears his heart on his sleeve forearm) — enjoy your special moment.

Now then: How many days until pitchers and catchers?

(My thanks to Bridger Deschamps and John Muir for the Trea Turner shot.)

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Hypothetical reminder: In case you missed it on Monday, I’m wondering — just hypothetically, of course — how many people would have been interested in a T-shirt based on that Uni Watch ransom note design that I showed on the site last week.

There are trademark issues, natch, so this mock-up is just for “What if?” illustrative purposes. Still, it would be fun to know how many people would have been interested — you know, just hypothetically — if such a shirt were possible in real life.

So: If you would have been hypothetically interested in this shirt, shoot me a note. Thanks.

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LAST CALL for the cycling jersey: If you want a Uni Watch Cycling Jersey, you must get your order in today. After that, the window for this batch will close. As always, you can customize the back of the jersey with your choice of number and NOB.

Full details here.

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San Diego update: Things are shaping up nicely for the upcoming Uni Watch party in San Diego, which will take place at the Wonderland Ocean Pub on Sunday, Nov. 10, beginning at 4pm. There will be several luminaries in attendance, including:

• founder Chris Creamer, who, like myself, will be in town to cover the Padres’ unveiling.

• Bob Halfacre, who runs the L.A.-based uniform outfitter Bobcat Athletic; works as an equipment staffer for the L.A. Kings; serves as the stitcher for the Dodgers; is responsible for the Mets’ BFBS phase (I’ll never forgive him for that!); and hates first initials on NOBs. Bob and I have been communicating for about a decade now, but we’ve never met in person, so I’m looking forward to the chance to finally shake his hand.

• Brandiose designers Casey white and Jason Klein, whose studio is based in San Diego. Never met them before either!

And I’m working on a few other people. Should be a good time — hope to see lots of our SoCal readers there.

It’ll be fun to see how many people show up wearing our new Uni Watch brown shirts. They’re available in cotton with a white wing logo, cotton with a gold wing logo, or sublimated poly with contrasting collar, sleeve trim, and custom sleeve patch.

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Meow: Shame on me for not mentioning in yesterday’s post that Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin turned 14 and a half yesterday. I know she has to start showing her age at some point, but it hasn’t happened yet. She still climbs where she doesn’t belong, gets ants in her pants and runs laps around the apartment, chatterboxes all day long, and generally acts more like a carefree child than like a grown-up (something we could all learn from). Happy half-birthday, cutie!!

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who’s Ojibwe, thinks it’s past time for the ’Skins to change their team name (from Jason Hillyer).

Baseball News: Since you can’t frame a digital ticket, the Nationals are providing ticket printouts for fans who attended the three World Series games in DC (from Andrew Hoenig). … Check it out: the Reds’ 150th-anniversary logo carved into a pumpkin (rare baseball submission from Josh Hinton). … A fan at last night’s World Series game had a different T-shirt for each Astros player and changed to the appropriate shirt as each one came to bat (from several readers).

NFL News: The Bills will wear their throwbacks this weekend. … The Chiefs are apparently swapping out their white facemasks for grey ones for this Sunday’s game against the Vikings (from many readers). … Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner explained why he likes exchanging jerseys with other players. … Some fans are wearing Antonio Brown jerseys and clown makeup for Halloween. … The Giants will be wearing their mono-white throwbacks on Monday night. … Washington OL Trent Williams recently ended his holdout and returned to the team. But he failed his physical yesterday due to “helmet discomfort.” “He did have a growth removed from his scalp last year, which may be the cause of this,” notes Mike Chamernik. “Or, he has been adamant about never playing for Washington again after the team failed to trade him, so it could be that.” … Here’s a new one, at least to me: Packers-licensed AA batteries (fron Shaun Meulemans). … Patriots special teamer Justin Bethel gave his teammates some sharp-looking Pats Starter jackets (thanks, Anthony).

College and High School Football News: Helmet maven Blaise D’Sylva’s latest helmet collection is for UMass. … Homecoming throwbacks for North Texas (from Cary Linck). … Did you know Illinois was supposed to play a game in Moscow 30 years ago? They even had jerseys made for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Mikhail Gorbachev. The game never happened, but the jerseys are still in the school’s equipment room (from @mrmichael21). … Now that the NCAA has begun the process of allowing players to profit from their names and likenesses, I wonder if this will lead to pressure on NNOB teams to start adding NOBs, since the players would be able to get a share of merch revenue. … Here’s this week’s uni combo for Virginia (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek got to do the coin toss for a Canadian college football game involving his alma mater. But for reasons that are unclear, at least to me, he wore a hockey jersey instead of a football jersey (from @PhillyPartTwo). … Texas A&M seniors will have some extra bling on their shoelaces this weekend (from Philip Golden).

Hockey News: Fans can vote on a Maine Mariners alternate design (from Heath Carignan). … New pad setup for Sabres G Linus Ullmark (from Edward Snyder). … Cross-listed from the college football section: Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek got to do the coin toss for a Canadian college football game involving his alma mater. But for reasons that are unclear, at least to me, he wore a hockey jersey instead of a football jersey (from PhillyPartTwo). … The Canadiens scored a goal when Coyotes G Antti Raanta lost a skate blade (from Mike Chamernik). … Really good article on how Penguins G Matt Murray gears up (from Jerry Wolper).

NBA News: Breaking this morning: Looks like the rumors of a peach-themed Hawks alternate were accurate. … This is pretty good: a mural of the Raptors logo eating the Warriors’ logo. … Here’s some interesting video footage of someone flying a drone through the shuttered Mid-South Coliseum, former home of the ABA’s Memphis Pros/Tams/Sounds and the NCAA’s Memphis Tigers. It’s been closed since 2006 (from Kary Klismet). … We’ve all seen pumpkins carved with team logos, but how about a pumpkin carved to look like the Raptors’ championship ring design? That’s pretty good! (From Ross Taylor.)

College Hoops News: Loyola Marymount season ticket holders are getting two new bobbleheads (from @PhillyPartTwo). … New uniforms for West Virginia (from Caleb Jenkins). … Colorado has a new jersey patch for an upcoming game that will take place in China (from Chad Lehman).

Soccer News: Here’s the ball design for the UEFA Champions League Final. … Sporting KC will be getting new jersey sponsors advertisers in 2021 (from Ed Zelaski). … New fourth kit for Juventus. “Aside from the neon green and orange, I much prefer these to their regular home kit,” says Mark Sencich. … Renderings for the new MLS stadium in St. Louis have been released (from Kary Klismet). … Spain’s 2020 home kit has leaked.

Grab Bag: Iowa’s “blackout” license plates are now the most popular specialty plates in the state (from Dustin Jensen). … Perhaps unsurprisingly, people are very bad at drawing famous logos from memory. … A CNN fashion writer really likes the sight of a man in a uniform. … The Yolo County (Cal.) Sheriff’s Department is switching to green-and-tan “throwback” uniforms (from Kary Klismet). … An Appalachian State-themed race car? Sure, why not (from several readers). … Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the Rumble in the Jungle, the fight in which Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman in Zaire to reclaim the world heavyweight boxing championship. The unusual thing from a uni perspective is that referee Zack Clayton was wearing a zebra-striped ref’s shirt — very uncommon for a boxing ref! … This infographic of the 2020 Aussie rules football season looks like an abstract mosaic (from Jeremy Brahm). … More tough times in journalism, as most of Deadspin’s staff resigned yesterday. Like so many media properties, Deadspin is currently owned by a bunch of clueless private equity douchebags who wouldn’t know journalism if it sat on their face. I’ll have more to say about all of this tomorrow.

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Happy Halloween! Here’s to a spoooooky day and night. May your jack-o-lanterns burn bright, may your candy all be fresh and not left over from last year, and may you send any and all Heath bars you receive directly to Uni Watch HQ. Big thanks to Brinke Guthrie for the holiday-colored Twitter avatar!

Comments (72)

    Can’t speak to the reason for the number of dashes, but I can speak to why there are no dashes on college (or high school) courts. Unlike the NBA which does jump balls on every held ball, the college game uses the alternating possession arrow (many different styles of this too. Maybe another topic?). They begin the games with a jump ball and then alternate possessions with throw-ins from there, so no need for circles at each goal. Only time you’ll see a second jump ball in these games is if they go to overtime.

    So why is there still a solid semicircle in the college game? Why not just a rectangular key and the 3-point arc and that’s it? What purpose does the solid semicircle serve? (I am curious and I don’t know much about basketball.)

    On free throws, the shooter can’t leave that semicircle until the ball hits the rim. Usually, the concern is crossing the free throw line (moving toward the basket), but I think the rule also applies to moving out of the semicircle in any direction.

    Isn’t it also that other (non-FT shooter) players can’t be inside that semicircle until the ball leaves the shooter’s hand?

    Sometimes players will line up just behind the semicircle for rebound positioning on an FTA. I have no idea how successful a rebound spot that is but I’m sure someone has geeked out the stats.

    High School and College do not have jump balls at either end of the floor because they use the alternating possession arrow for all held balls and beginnings of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters. NBA does not use the alternating possession arrow…. All held balls are jumped by the two people that tied the ball up and I believe they flip a coin before the game to determine who gets the ball at the beginning of each quarter.

    No quarters in men’s college basketball. There are quarters in women’s college basketball.

    The NBA rule on the initial jump ball is that team gets the ball to start the first quarter and 4th quarter while the team that lost the initial jump ball gets the ball to start the 2nd & 3rd quarters. As a basketball coach I wish the game was more consistent across the different levels of competition. For example high school basketball players (men) who go to the next level then have to adjust to playing 2 halves coming from a game that had 4 quarters, and then if they’re lucky enough to make the NBA or any other pro league they go back to 4 quarters. The women got it right in my opinion by making it 4 quarters across the board.

    The team that wins the opening tip in the NBA gets the ball to start the 4th quarter. The team that loses the opening tip gets the ball to start the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

    As I understand it, college basketball eliminated the jump ball because it takes too much time to do it, refs aren’t always good at tossing the ball up, a lot of physical pushing and shoving going on, many times would end up with a jump mismatch where a guard ties up a big man and big man has advantage. I suspect it is just easier for refs to look at an arrow and be done with it more than anything else.

    Just for interest, here’s a synopsis list of all collegiate basketball rule changes over the years. Been a lot of them. link

    Fascinating link, at which I will spend way more time than necessary.


    A dribbler may not shoot for a field goal and may dribble only once, and then with two hands.

    Back then, nobody create their own shot off the dribble!

    The whole ghost-Dirk on the court seems strange to me. What if other teams started doing it with their retired stars. Celtics, Sixers and Lakers, just to name three, would have ghost players laying all over the court. It would look like the aftermath a basketball zombie attack.

    Just because one team did it, why does any other team have to do it? And even if they do, why is that an argument against the first team that did it?

    Also, note that if it does become a trend, history will remember that the first guy to get one was … wait for it … a white guy.

    It’s not strange to me or other Mavs fans. It’s really hard to explain to people outside the area what Dirk means to the Mavs and North Texas. He has quietly given so much. Y’all probably get what Roger Staubach or Coach Landry means to the area. Dirk is in that category. Don’t dog us for loving a decent human. It goes beyond basketball.

    Typo: “… mascot Caitlin 14 and a half yesterday.” Need a “turned” in there.

    Not mentioned in your World Series recap was that the Astros wore orange jerseys at home last night, something they only do for Friday home games. They had lost the previous three home games wearing white jerseys and as you mentioned they wore orange in Game 7 when they beat the Dodgers in 2017. So the Astros wearing orange at home last night was actually something out of the norm. Too bad it went for naught.

    The Astros became the fourth team (and first AL team) to wear three different jerseys this postseason. The Nats’ gray, the Braves’ red, the Cardinals’ “St. Louis”, and the Astros’ orange were worn for one game each.

    I had heard that the Astros could have forced the Nats out of Navy alts by wearing the Taquila Sunrise alts. MLB doesn’t allow same color alt in playoff games. However, Cubs / Indians World Series game 7 had that matchup.
    Any thoughts Paul ?

    Not sure why it was a hockey jersey, but Alex Trebek’s attire at the coin toss was described as his Gee-Gees Class of ’61 jersey. Had number 61 on the jersey. Would represent when he graduated from U. of Ottawa I imagine. The coin toss was from back on Oct 5 during the Panda Game when the 2 Ottawa schools in U Sports football battle it out.


    “An Appalachian State-themed race car? Sure, why not”.

    As to why…it could have something to do with Joe Gibbs having 2 grandsons who suit up for Appalachian State football.

    Iowa’s black license plates are the most popular in the state, not the country. And, as an Iowan, I love them. They caused me to buy specialty plates for the first time ever.

    Actually I don’t think this is right either, the article doesn’t say they’re the most popular plate in the state, it says they are the most popular specialty plate.

    The NBA probably has the dotted jump ball line at the top of the paint so as not to confuse it with the “no charge” line at the bottom of the paint. Then, since jump balls on one side or the other are rarer than plays in the paint that might yield a charge, make the charge line solid.

    Don’t think that’s accurate since there was a dotted line on the Knicks’ 1972 court before that block/charge rule was in effect.

    Excellent “reporting” on the dashes. The type of in-depth coverage I admire from Uni-Watch. It’s so much more than colors. Reminds me of the Pulitzer quality reporting on the number of pin stripes in CC Sebathia’s Jersey. Perhaps you could rum that piece in honor of his retirement.

    That NCAA court design is outdated. The 3 point line has been pushed back, and there is now the half-circle under the hoop for block/charge calls.

    I’ll be… Never thought way the line is dotted. maybe so there isn’t too much info inside the paint?

    Btw, fiba has the poss. arrow too.
    Btw2, really miss the trapezoid paint

    in addition to the ring on the aTm shoelaces, they have a RIFLE on the side of the cleats. personally, I dont give a crap as I support the team name Washington BULLETS, but I look for someone to get bent out of shape about RIFLES in this gun sensitive culture of ours.

    then again, it is in the lone star state.

    keep up the great work, uniwatch team!

    As long as we’re talking NBA paint, its curious that some of the courts have the “amateur markings” e.g. the narrower key, but most of them don’t.

    Boston, NY, Chicago, Denver have them in the photos above.

    With teams having multiple floors now, you’d think amateur markings on the professional floor would have become extinct by now.

    Paul – “Breaking this morning: Looks like the rumors of a peach-themed Hawks alternate were accurate. …”

    – Although the link works, the tweet is broken. If you have a different source, I’d link to it instead.


    Apologies if this has been covered, but I saw online that Vince Carter is set to play against the Raptors who are wearing a throwback that he wore as a player. I have to believe that there’s a very small set of athletes that have been around long enough to play either with or against a team wearing throwbacks that they wore as “new”. I know I’m not explaining that very well, but to me it seems like an interesting research project.

    Also, I would like to buy something from one of the advertisers from your site. How can I get you the most benefit? Wait until I see the ad on your page and access their site from yours?

    I believe Craig Biggio once wore a throwback Astros jersey that he had worn when it was current.

    If it’s one of the rotating ads on the site (i.e., sometimes there but sometimes not), don’t worry about it. I don’t expect you to wait until an ad reappears in the rotation!

    If it’s one of our steady advertisers in the right-hand rail, it would be nice if you could make the purchase from the ad on our site. Thank you!

    Pouring one out for Deadspin. Along with Uni Watch, Deadspin had been part of my daily routine for well over a decade. I always thought Uni Watch would fit right in on Deadspin, to be honest. But that’s clearly not happening.

    I want to use more colorful language to properly display how I feel about the death of Deadspin, but instead I’ll say the corporate overlords can go pound sand.

    Today’s lede is the perfect example of why UniWatch is still a daily read for me, more than a decade in. Awesome niche content.

    Thanks, Christopher. I have to say, today’s lede is also a great example of why *I* still love Uni Watch! It still teaches me things, and that’s always exciting to me.

    Great cover on the basketball court. I have absolutely no idea why, but I find this incredibly fascinating!

    Gotta get some more of those cycling jerseys. I pray down the line you have more versions come out.. Perhaps Houston Oilers motif? Either way, I’m in.

    I would dig a baby blue fade to white motif. Nothing better than that gorgeous oil rig if somehow incorporated (although I’m at a loss there). Maybe with the sweet red trim?

    Looks good – but they should have kept it under wraps as best as they could until the official unveiling.

    That screenshot… May 2nd, 2017, Celtics-Wizards Game 2! The greatest sports moment I will ever witness in person: Isaiah Thomas overcame an injured hip, a fractured heart, and a broken jaw to score 50 and will the Celtics to an overtime playoff win. Man, it was just magical the way he… wait, what were we talking about? Got kind of dizzy for a moment, there…

    does anyone know what those additional two dashes on NBA courts are for? Specifically, the ones tangential to the dashed arc. never been able to figure it out

    The two dashes in the lane tangential to the arc mark the “upper” limit of the lower defensive box (LDB). The two tick marks along the endline, outside each lane line, mark the lateral limits of the LDB. The endline marks the other edge. This imaginary box is directly tied to the restricted area (RA), the semicircle under the basket in the lane. NCAA women use this same mechanism, although the LDB there is somewhat smaller. In a nutshell, if a player starts his/her move to the basket outside the LDB, no secondary defender can take a position in that arc. If a player starts his/her move to the basket inside the LDB, it’s like the RA arc goes away. A defender can take a position there.

    With the Nats embracing the blue this postseason, any chance they flip that to their primary color? Could anybody provide a mock-up of what that may look like?

    I hope not. I like the red Nats hat best because it is a rebirth of the Washington Senators caps.

    Although I also associate the Nationals’ red cap with the expansion Senators, because I started following the Senators in 1969, the Expansion Senators only wore the Curly W on a red cap from 1969-1971. The Expansion Senators wore blue caps from 1961-1968 and an a Curly W on a blue cap from 1963-1967. So, a blue cap with a Curly W was the cap worn the longest by the Expansion Senators.


    Yet another Uni Watch topic I thought I was the only one to notice: check out this Bucks’ early 1970’s key with 14 dashes link

    Jayce Tingler not even wearing a tie in his introductory presser! You’d think he’d wear a brown and yellow diagonally striped tie to keep Paul’s tradition alive :-D


    I was surprised that there was no mention of the early unveiling of the Padres brown cap?

    The Padres held the press conference for new manager Jay Tingler today and according to what I heard on the radio he was wearing the new brown cap. However, the jersey is a brown 2019, so they are saving for you.


    Today’s blog entry, like all our entries, was posted in the morning.

    The press conference was in the afternoon.

    The cap will be covered in Friday’s entry.

Comments are closed.