It's hard to tell what is more disturbing in the National Basketball Association this year - lack of brains shown by certain individuals involved with the league or the lack of players that can shoot the ball. Scoring is down, field goal percentages are down and if Commissioner David Stern and the rules committee don't make some changes in the offseason, attendance will be down as well.

These guys are supposed to be the best players on the planet, although recent international competitions have shown that the rest of the world is rapidly catching up, yet most have trouble hitting an open jump shot. It's not just the guys that spend most of their time keeping the bench warm that can't make their shots, it's also the "superstars."

Allen Iverson is nailing a whopping 41 percent of his field goal attempts, not much worse than Kobe Bryant's 42.2 percent and slightly better than the dismal 38.9 percentage of Stephon Marbury.

It's even worse when you get to some individual teams. The Lakers, three-time defending champions, are shooting 39.8 percent from the floor. Say what you like about Shaq, but his absence definitely hurt the team in more ways than one.

Three other teams are shooting under 40 percent, led by the Denver Nuggets, who are averaging a league-low 76.5 points per game. Their 74-53 loss to the Detroit Pistons Nov. 16 has to go down as one of the biggest embarrassments in league history. After three quarters, the Pistons held a 46-41 lead before Detroit exploded for 28 fourth-quarter points.

Eventually people are going to get tired of paying $100 a ticket to watch lousy basketball and while the powers that be may act like it's business as usual, they have to know that another 78-73 game on ESPN isn't going to have people lining up outside the arena for tickets.

People go to professional sporting events to see athletes do things they can't. They want to see Sammy Sosa hit a 500-foot home run, Brett Hull drill a 95-mile-per-hour slapshot past the goalie or Rich Gannon hit Jerry Rice with a perfectly thrown touchdown pass.

They don't want to see guys throwing up airballs from 15 feet. Having spent several years watching the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team I know that for a fact.

Getting rid of the zone defense would be a good place to start since players are obviously too busy making rap albums and shopping for clothes and jewelry to work on their shooting over the summer.

Making things worse is the fact that players aren't as bright as they used to be. Take Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire, for example. It's bad enough that they're willing to risk millions of dollars per year by carrying around marijuana, but guys, if you're going to be in possession of an illegal drug try driving the speed limit. Don't give the police a reason to pull you over.

But the players aren't the only ones guilty of lacking judgment. There's always the owners that are paying these guys seven (or eight) figures per season to stink the place up. Especially the one who is paying Stoudamire $12.3 million to ride the bench and ride around in speeding cars.

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Sports reporter Allen Moody can be reached at 1-800-522-0255 (ext. 1-248) or by e-mail at amoody@eastoregonian.com.

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