Basketball is played…differently in North Korea.
- In 2013, former NBA star and oddball Dennis Rodman visited North Korea at the behest of its leader, Kim Jong Un. The pair took in a game of basketball, which is extremely popular in North Korea. The game was very strange, however, and revealed to the rest of the world the North Korean basketball scoring system.
- Everybody knows that slam dunks are awesome. In North Korea, they’re even more awesome, worth three points rather than two.
- Distance shots—taken from past the arc around the basket—are still worth three points. However, if the shooter makes the goal without the ball touching the rim, a “swish” or “nothing but net,” the three-pointer becomes a four-pointer.
- When Shaquille O’Neal played in the NBA, opposing teams developed a strategy called “hack-a-Shaq”: intentionally fouling O’Neal late in a close game so he’d have to take free throws, of which he had a less than 50 percent success rate. This would have been a bigger problem for O’Neal if he’d played in North Korea—points are deducted for missed free throws.
- Talk about a buzzer-beating, come-from-behind victory: A successful shot taken from anywhere on the court during the final three seconds of a game is worth eight points.
- Games can end in ties. The one Rodman saw ended with a score of 110 to 110.
- It’s worth noting that Kim John Un’s father, previous North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, was possibly the world’s greatest golfer. In 1994, the North Korean state-run media reported that he shot a round at 38 under par…including 11 holes-in-one. The brutal, isolationist dictator of a country reportedly dotted with prison camps and “reeducation facilities” had his feat verified by 17 witnesses, which also happened to be the first time he ever played golf.
For more sports trivia, check out Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular.