Rickey Manbahal Discusses the Evolution of Basketball Technology

Rickey Manbahal


When you think of the numerous ways that technology has impacted our daily lives, it is hard to imagine how it is affecting a long-loved and played sport like basketball. But NBA basketball has been significantly altered through the years by technology, and some of those key changes we now take for granted and may barely even notice. Enthusiast and Finance Director, Rickey Manbahal took the time to go over some key and pivotal ways that basketball is being changed by technology.


Shot Clock Advancements

The first piece of technology that transformed basketball was in support of officiating. It used to be that when the buzzer sounded as a shot was fired, there was no way to determine whether a player got the shot off in time, so whatever they called stood. Rickey Manbahal explains that this was a haphazard manner of officiating a game and made the difference between championship titles. A key example of this was the game between the LA Lakers and the Sacramento Kings for the Western conference Finals in 2002. In Game 4, the Lakers’ Samaki Walker made a three-pointer at the first-half buzzer. TV replays showed Walker’s shot left his hand after the time had expired, but it counted. The Lakers went on to win the game 100-99. Those three points would have given the Kings the series victory.

Instant Replays

The season after this happened, the NBA implemented instant replays to view multiple angles of plays which occur at the end of each quarter. Any basket or foul at the quarter-ending buzzer would be reviewed. In 2008 and 2009, instant replays were expanded, as at any point in the game, referees could replay a shot at the three-point arc to determine whether a player is behind the line or not. This allows them to accurately award teams two points or free-throw opportunities versus three. This had a major impact on the NBA and how games are played.

Rickey Manbahal

Data Collection
Data has been around as long as humans have, but observers of sports have sought more ways to use data to win games. Rickey Manbahal explains that while conventional sports wisdom may direct players and coaches to watching and re-watching tapes, technology offers some key advantages. ShotTracker, for example, hopes to take basketball to a whole other level through their sensor-based platform that captures stats and performance analytics for an entire team in real time. How does it work? Electronic sensors are installed in a facility’s rafters, which can map a basketball court in 3D. Meanwhile, as a game or practice is in progress, ShotTracker collects data by following the real-time movement of both the ball and players fitted with lightweight sensors.

There is a data service provider called Noah basketball, and they have created an innovative method for helping players improve their shots. The Noah system is an attempt to blend old-fashioned repetition with analytics and technology. Rickey Manbahal explains that teams can access seemingly endless amounts of data, tracking not only the arc, but where a shot was taken from and where it ended up in relation to the basket. The system can measure if a shot is too far to the left or right — or if it’s too short or long. The system has instant verbal feedback to make corrections and build muscle memory. The CEO of the company, John Carter explained that the system has a couple of small censors attached to the top of the shot clock, which are literally the size of someone’s thumb.

InfoMotion Sports Technologies

Looking for other sensor-based innovations? Look no further, as the 94fifty basketball is here! InfoMotion Sports Technologies’ new basketball is regulation size and weight and is equipped with nine internal sensors that measure everything from shot release speed, arc and backspin, to dribble force and angle. It transmits all of this information via Bluetooth within one tenth of a second. The iOS and Android app features more than 50 drills and skill tests designed to improve a player’s game. The ball, charged on a wireless pad, also has an eight-hour battery life.


When you think of technology and its impact on basketball, the last thing you probably imagined on this list was a shoe, but Nike is no ordinary shoe manufacturer, and the Nike+ “pressure sensor” is no ordinary shoe. Rickey Manbahal explains that these new Nike basketball and training shoes will use sensors to track data about wearers’ movements and transit it wirelessly to their iPhones. This is not new for Nike, who have been adding sensors to athletic wear since 2006, but it is a major leap in building their Nike+ community. Tracking the movement, jumping height, and speed of the wearer, these shoes are adding another metric to the already data saturated field of professional sports. They provide an opportunity for players to track their progress through real data collection, able to see and make changes in real time.

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