"You know this moment: time is running out, the team is down by one, a player arcs the ball from downtown just as the buzzer sounds—and sinks it. it’s exhilarating. It’s heart breaking. And most of all, it’s good design."
Much has been written about how an astute use of constraints can help focus problems and promote creativity. Studies have shown that obstacles of form allow people to think in more all-encompassing ways and that the result of giving free reign to solve a problem is often that people will revert to what worked in the past rather than create an original and different solution. Some of the most creative strategies and executions in media and advertising have come from situations where budget was severely limited. Many believe boundaries like 140 characters or 6 seconds of video or an Instgram-sized square to be important contributory factors to adoption and usage.
So this short 99% Invisible episode on the development of basketball is fascinating in telling the story of how the imposition of constraints were so critical to the huge growth in popularity of the game. It's interesting in itself that for decade after the invention of basketball, the basket was closed at the bottom, requiring the manual retrieval of the ball every time someone scored. But the real turning point for the game came with the imposition of the 24 second stop clock and the heightened tension, emotion and anxiety that that restriction created. It was, in short, a brilliant piece of design.