Think of basketball and names like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and many others come to mind. These men have elevated basketball from merely just a sport to a national craze! Today, it is one of the most watched and played sports in the United States, played at all levels from school, college to professional NBA. It was invented by Dr. James Naismith
, in 1891, as an indoor game.
The objective of this game is quite simple. Try putting the ball in the basket opposite yours, and prevent the other team from scoring one. However, as easy as it sounds, it does involve some rules and regulations that must be followed while playing this fast-paced game. Here's how you play the game.
According to the NBA rules, basketball is played on a rectangular maple wood court measuring 94 feet by 50 feet. The objective of the game is to throw the ball through a circular hoop as many times as possible. The hoop is situated 10 feet above the court and has only a slightly larger circumference than the basketball itself. There are two such mounted hoops at opposite ends of the court where the two teams can score.
The two teams are simultaneously trying to stop the opposition team from scoring, while trying to score themselves. Each of the teams have five players on the field. The players pass the ball to each other or move with the ball by bouncing it (called dribbling) continuously. Kicking the ball or using the fist is not allowed.
Points are scored when the ball is thrown through the hoop (known as basket). If the ball is passed through the hoop from beyond 7.2 m, or further, from the hoop, the team that has scored the basket gains 3 points. If a basket is scored closer than 7.2 m from the hoop, the scoring team gets 2 points. The game is played over 4 quarters of 12 minutes each in the NBA. There is a break of 15 minutes at the half time, and two minutes for other breaks. The clock is stopped when there is a stoppage of play. There is an overtime of five minutes. At the end of the entire playing period, the team with the maximum points wins.
The Basketball Rulebook
The basic objective of the game was outlined in the above paragraph. But there are certain actions that are not allowed while you are playing. Let us discuss what they are.
- Outside: The ball or a player who is in contact with the ball is not allowed to go outside the playing area. If the player or the ball goes outside the court, the opposition team gets a throw-in.
- Traveling: As the player moves, he has to continuously dribble the ball. If he moves without dribbling the ball, it is called traveling and is considered as a foul. The only exception to this rule is if he is throwing a basket. In this case, he is allowed to move two steps and a jump without dribbling.
- Double Dribbling: A player is allowed to dribble with only one hand at a time. A player is also not allowed to hold the ball and then resume dribbling. This is called double dribbling.
- Carrying the Ball: While dribbling the player's hand must be above the ball. If he puts his hand below the ball it is called carrying.
- Back Pass: Once one team establishes control at the front half of the court, the members of that team are not allowed to pass the ball to the rear-half of the court. This rule was created to ensure more attacking play.
- Goaltending: Once a player of one team shoots the ball towards the basket, and the ball is on a descent towards the basket, a player of the opposition team is not allowed to block the ball. If a player does so, it is considered as a basket.
All these are the basic violations of basketball. If any of these are committed by one team, the possession of the ball is passed to the other team. More serious forms of foul are classified into personal fouls and technical fouls. The judgment of whether an action should be called a foul, regarding ejection of a player and reward of penalty to the other team, are on the discretion of the referee.
The rule for a personal foul is a little ambiguous and it depends on the referee whether he thinks if the action was serious or not. A personal foul is said to have been committed when an unfair disadvantage is caused to an opposition player through unnecessary physical contact. Most common fouls are tripping a player while dribbling or tapping a players hand from behind as he takes a shot. A penalty shot (one point if successful) is awarded to a team if its player is fouled. In an NBA game, if a player commits six personal fouls, he is 'fouled out' and not allowed to participate for the rest of the game.
When a player shows dissent towards a referee or a player, or shows unsportsmanlike conduct during the course of the game, it is known as a technical foul. Repeated incidents of technical foul will also result in the ejection of the player from the game. The number of technical fouls to be committed by a player before he is ejected also depends upon the discretion of the referee.
The rules stated here are basically the ones followed by professional NBA teams in US. Rules regarding timing and court size may be different in leagues of different countries. Basketball is a wonderful, dynamic, and fast-paced game that requires immense energy. It improves the overall fitness and health as well.