Rules History

Written by Super User. Posted in History

nba a rules11 600As the game itself has evolved, so have the rules, equipment and facilities. The size of the basketball court has varied through history, but it is now regulated by the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) to a rectangular shape 28 metres long and 15 metres wide. While the dimensions of the court have changed, the height of the basket has remained the same since James Naismith nailed a peach basket 10 feet (3.05m) off the ground along the side of a balcony surrounding the Springfield gym. The dimension of the basketball ring has also remained the same through most of the sport's history, but in the early days when netball, a derivation of basketball was played, there were differences. 

The of the basketball court varied through history, but it is now regulated by the Federation International Basketball Associations (FIBA) to a rectangular shape 28m long and 15m wide. While the dimensions of the court have changed the height of the basket has remained the same since James Naismith nailed a peach basket 10 feet (3.05m) off the ground along the side of a balcony surrounding the Springfield gym. The dimension of the basketball ring has also remained the same through most of the sport's history, but in the early days when netball, a derivation of basketball, was played there were differences The diameter of a basketball ring is 45cm wide enough to fit two basketballs side by side with the inside surface 15cm in front of the backboard. measuring 1.8m x 1.05m. These must be solid and supported so the face of the board is 1.2m inside the baseline. The top edge of the ring is fitted to the backboard supports at a position 3.05m above the floor. Due to the exceptional athleticism of players in the modern game the bottom edge and sides of the backboard must be fitted with high density rubber padding

The court markings have remained similar although the shape fo the key has changed several times since the early 1960s. The area in front and around the basket was termed the keyway due to the fact the original shape was like a keyhole with two parallel lines 1.8m apart extending from the baseline to the edge of a circle with a 5m diameter. Later the width of the keyway was increased to 3.6m but due to continued dominance of tall player close to the basket FIBA extended the width of the keyway to 5.m Thus the shape of the keyway has changed from a keyhole to a rectangle to a trapezium. But FIBA has mandated a change of the keyway again making it a 4.9 rectangular shape up to the level of the free throw line.

James Naismith originally chose teams of 9 players because there were 18 students in his class. To discourage rough play hard contact was forbidden and a player who received two fouls would be disqualified. Naismith chose to use a soccer ball so that it could be more easily handled and added the requirement that the ball be bounced while players were moving (dribbling).

The object of the game was to throw the ball into the peach basket and if successful, two points would be scored. If there were three fouls in succession the opposing team would be awarded two points. Later it was decided if a player was fouled he would take a free throw 20 feet (6.1m) from the basket If successful the team would score one point. Later the distance for the free throw was reduced to 15 feet (4.6m)

After each successful basket the game was re-started by a jump ball at the centre of the court. Not surprisingly the team that won the tip most times would win the game.

Despite the harsh penalties for fouls the game was still rather rough. There was little strategy and, compared to the modern game, not much movement of the players. Players would set up with their tallest player close to the basket. This player was known as the centre or post because the gym roofs would often be supported by pillars that were positioned in the middle of the court. Smart offensive players would use these pillars (posts) at times to set screens, giving birth to the term and position of post. The two next tallest players would set up each side of the keyway near the sidelines and they were known as forwards. The two smallest players, known as guards, would dribble the ball down the court and set up somewhere between the centre line and the top of the keyway.

The guards would try to get the ball through the defence by passing the ball quickly from side to side to the forwards who would then try to pass to the post close to the basket for a hook shot. If the defenders of the forwards stayed close to the centre then this would provide an opportunity for either the forwards or guards to take a long two-handed set shot.

The game evolved as teams developed more movement in their offence, cutting to the basket as the give-and-go offence became universally popular. The tall players close to the basket were still dominant despite the width of the keyway being increased and the introduction of the three-second rule. Strategies to get players free for uncontested shots evolved and screens would be set on defensive opponents to allow for closer or easier shots. So the defence had to match these new offensive strategies and zone defences became popular as well as the more common man-to-man defence. A zone defence meant that a player was responsible for a particular area of the court rather than a specific individual. This meant that sometimes more than one player might defend the man with the ball, increasing the difficulty for the offence to pass to team-mates or shoot.

In the mid-1950s the jump shot first became popular. This was probably the most revolutionary change in the sport. Players developed great skill in dribbling and coming to a sudden stop, jumping vertically and, at the top of the jump, releasing the ball with ever increasing accuracy. The jump shot has become the most effective weapon for the offensive player, mainly because it is difficult to defend and the skills of players has improved so much they can score consistently from long range.

As the changes in the offensive tactics changed, so did the roles of the players. It is now desirable for all players to have equal skills. We still refer to the positions of guard, forward and centre, and they are broken down into each of five positions: point guard (playmaker), off-guard (a good shooter and scorer), small forward (the team's best all-round player), power forward (a strong rebounder and defender) and centre (the post player). But these words relate more to the positions of the players on the court rather than the players themselves. Guards or forwards may post up close to the basket. Centres or forwards may take the ball to the guard spot, or point (the area close to the top of the keyway). Players are getting taller and becoming more athletic and can adapt their play to any position so it is no longer uncommon for very tall players to dominate the guard positions.

The dramatic changes to how players adapted from one position to the other came during the late 1970s and mid-1980s when Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan came to dominate the NBA. More than anyone, Johnson was the prototype multi-position player. During Johnson's rookie season with the LA Lakers, he was a sensation. At 6'9" (206cm), Johnson was a ball-carrying, playmaking, scoring all-rounder. Just a few years earlier, he would have been a post player and that would have been his role. But Johnson played like a small man and a big man and every man in between before Jordan took the game to a different plane with his athleticism and defensive prowess.

The way Jordan, classified as a guard at 6'6" (198cm), played as he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships while winning five league MVP awards once again redefined how basketball is played. In some cases, basketball officials had been forced to redraw the rule book to cope with dominant players. Such a change was to widen the keyway to reduce the impact of the big men. Other significant changes have been the introduction of the shot clock and the three-point line.

During the 1960s it became common for teams to establish a lead and then stall. This meant the team with the lead would not try to score and just maintain possession. Sometimes when a stall was applied defenders would deliberately foul opponents just to get the chance to gain possession of the ball. This led to granting opponents free-throws after a certain number of team fouls during a half, or a quarter. These penalties helped, but a more revolutionary change came when a time limit was placed on the offensive team to shoot. Teams were given 30 seconds to shoot or the ball was given to the opposition. This rule virtually ended the stall, but in recent years the rule makers reduced the time limit to attempt a shot to just 24 seconds.

The shot clock, especially when it went to 24 seconds, made for some fast-paced offence, making the dominant guards and small forwards even more important and prominent. The same occurred with the introduction of the three-point shot during the

1980s. The perimeter players now had an extra ace up their sleeve with the three-point shot. The international three-point arc was draw 6.25m from the basket, but such has been the quality of outside shooting that FIBA has mandated the three-point line move to 6.75m.

So as you can see, basketball has undergone many changes, mandated and evolutionary, through its history, but it still remains basically the same game invented by Dr James Naismith in 1891. It also remains the greatest game in the world.

James Naismith's original rules for basketball

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.

2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).

3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.

4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.

5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3,4, and such as described in Rule 5.

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).

8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.

9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play by the person first touching it. In case of a dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds; if he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.

10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.

11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made, and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.

12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes' rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

Note: Basketball was originally two words and these original rules were published January 15, 1892 in the Springfield College school newspaper, The Triangle.