Basketball - an explanation
It was in the cold of winter, back in 1891, that Doctor
James Naismith hung two peach baskets and gave rise to
the sport of basketball. While working in the athletic
department of the YMCA in Springfield, Massachussetts,
Dr. Naismith wanted a recreational activity that could
be played indoors during the snowy and cold New England
winters. "Basketball" was quite unlike the game it is
Using a soccer ball and two peach baskets, set at
opposite ends of the gymnasium, the object was to toss
the ball in the basket and earn a point. The game was
very slow and rules were not very clear. Each time a
team would successfully land the ball in the peach
basket, the game had to stop in order to retrieve the
ball. No one had thought to cut a hole in the bottom of
the peach basket. Well, as the years went by, the game
changed, eventually becoming one of the world's most
popular sports. If you are new to the sport of
basketball, please read on as I will try to explain all
the intricacies of the game.
Even if you know nothing about basketball, you probably
are familiar with some of the great players from the
past and the present. Names like Wilt Chamberlain, Larry
Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
These players enjoy a status equivalent to England's
football (soccer) star, David Beckham.
Let's start out with a brief explanation of the object
of the game and some of the basic rules. Like any other
sport, the object is to outscore your opponent.
Different rules apply for high school, college and
professional leagues. For purposes of this article, I'll
focus on the professional game only. The National
Basketball Association (NBA) is the professional league
in the United States where, even the average player, is
paid millions to play a game.
A regulation game is divided into 4 quarters. Two
quarters make a half. Two halfs make an official game,
unless overtime is required. Games can not end in a tie
(as in soccer). Each quarter is 12 minutes of official
time and a regulation game is 48 minutes of official
time. Official time is not real time. Play is stopped
often with time outs, for injuries and yes, television
commercial advertisements. So, a normal game generally
takes about 2.5 to 3.0 hours to complete. You score
points each time you successfully get the ball through
the basketball hoop. The basketball hoop is made of
steel and has a diameter roughly twice the size of the
basketball. Suspended from the circular steel ring is a
nylon net that makes it easy to see if the ball did pass
through the hoop.
You can score 1, 2 or 3 points for each successful shot.
The basic shot, within approximately 22 feet of the
basket, is worth 2 points. It does not matter if it goes
in from 15 feet, 5 feet or is dunked directly through
A 3 point shot is any shot that is taken from behind the
3 point line. The 3 point line is an arc drawn from two
equidistant points on opposite sides of the goal (on the
endline) and extending 22 feet out on all points of the
semicircle. Any shot made behind the line is worth 3
If a player is fouled, he goes to the foul line to shoot
free throws. Each successful shot is worth one point.
The foul line is located 15 feet, directly in front, of
the basket. It is also referred to as the free throw
line, because you attempt the shot with no one guarding
Advancing the Basketball
A regulation court is approximately 29 meters (94 feet)
long and 15 meters (50 feet) wide. There are two ways to
advance the ball toward the basket. Dribbling involves
bouncing the ball up and down from your hand to the
floor and back again. The rules alow you to take one
step with each dribble. If you take two or more steps
when dribbling up the court, you will be whistled for a
turnover (when the other team is awarded possession of
the ball). The other means of advancing the ball is by
passing it to one of your teamates. You may get the ball
to your teammate any way you want, the most common being
the chest pass (where you throw it in the air) and the
bounce pass (bounce the ball once to reach your
teammate). There is no rule against rolling it to a
teammate, but that is not really a regular method of
advancing the ball.
Now that you know some of the basics, I'll try to
explain some of the terminology of the sport.
This is an offensive scoring play where a player leaps
high enough in the air so that the ball is above the
rim. He then "slams" it down through the hoop for a slam
dunk and 2 points. In the NBA, just about every player
can slam dunk, even the shorter ones who are well under
2 meters in height. The act of dunking on someone has
been a fan favorite for many years. There are actually
contests to see who can do the most awesome and creative
slam dunk. For instance, you might see someone turning
360 degrees through the air, kick his feet apart and
slam the ball through the hoop with a windmill motion of
No one guards an individual player. Instead each player
is responsible for an area on the court and defends
against anyone that invades that area.
This is called if you get out of line with the referee,
maybe by swearing or complaining too much about a call.
The opposing team is awarded free throws.
While on offense, if you run into a defender (more than
a touch), you are penalized and the ball is turned over
to your opponent.
There is so much more to understand about basketball,
but, that can not be done in one short article. Why not
get yourself a basketball, find a hoop and give the
sport a go. Don't be left behind as the rest of the
world is playing basketball in greater numbers than ever