Jordan's summertime


didn't leave the NBA to play baseball. He left retirement -- the first of his three retirements, actually -- to play baseball, and for a lot of his peers, that dampened the surprise and shock of Jordan's decision.

As fascinating as Jordan's dabble in the national pastime 15 years ago might have been for crossover sports fans and those of us who rotated our after-school athletics with each season, it was mostly bewildering and head-scratching for a lot of the fellas he had left behind. Less Bo Jackson as a Raider and a Royal than Joe Namath as a quarterback and an actor, or William Shatner as a star fleet commander and a crooner.

"Did it intrigue me? No,'' Kevin McHale said flatly. The current Timberwolves coach was fresh off a Hall of Fame basketball career himself at the time, a fierce competitor from the rival Boston Celtics who had seen Jordan's Bulls match his own three NBA championships. But he didn't anticipate the Chicago superstar adding any World Series rings to his trophy cases. Not even close.

"I don't remember exactly what I was thinking, but I'm sure I thought he was silly,'' McHale said. "That's just not how it works. If athletics transferred over, your best basketball player would be your best tennis player, who would be your ... it doesn't. You individually hone skills for your game, which don't translate to any other game. You can be a great, great player in our league and not be able to play football. You can be a great basketball player and be a 20-handicapper in golf. It happens all the time. In fact, I know a lot of those guys in the latter category.''

Had Jordan pursued golf, where his physiological clock wouldn't have been ticking quite the same -- at 31 in 1994 he was old for baseball, but he would have had plenty of time to target a spot on the Champions Tour -- it all might have made sense. But then, golf was something that baseball was supposed to take Jordan away from. Because of, you know, all the golfers who happen to, er, gamble.

"There were two things you thought about when you heard he was going to play baseball,'' a former NBA coach told me. "First, were three titles enough for him? There was talk that he was burned out. The other thing was, you wondered how much the league was involved in it, after all the talk about Michael and gambling and needing to step back from that. People on the outside didn't look at it that way, but those of us in the inner circle did.

"As someone who worked for one of the other teams, I was just glad he was taking time off.''

Former NBA forward Ed Pinckney was in Jordan's school class all the way through. They were born 38 days apart, so they wound up participating in the same McDonald's All-American game, attending the same Five-Star Basketball Camp and playing as teammates in the Pan American Games. Pinckney says he had no inkling of Jordan's baseball jones.

"I knew he liked golf, though,'' said Pinckney, who got to the NBA one year after Jordan, sticking around for Villanova's 1985 NCAA championship. "I remember on all of our trips -- and I wondered if they specifically tried to do this for him -- there were always these little putting greens in the hotels we stayed in. He was always on them. Guys were playing cards in their rooms, just joking and hanging out -- we're freshmen and sophomores in college -- but this guy liked to just putt.''

So when Pinckney heard that Jordan was going to chase curveballs?

"He, I guess, thought ... I don't know what he thought, to be honest with you,'' said Pinckney, who played 12 NBA seasons, was with Boston when Jordan switched sports and is currently a Timberwolves assistant coach. "Everybody else around the league thought that this guy is just heading into his prime, and to chase something that maybe's not going to happen -- he's so great -- why would he take the time, or waste the time, to do that?''

Pinckney, by the way, played baseball himself. But he grew three inches as a freshman in high school, on his way to 6-foot-9, at which point basketball pretty much selected him.

"I remember a press conference where Michael talked about Little League,'' he said, "and I'm like, 'Little League?' The pros are going to be a little different. You watched him in those first games and batting practice, that just never computed to me. It never made sense. 'I'm going to go try this, to see if I can do this.' What?''

That such a dream or brainstorm or delusion would come so far from left field, figuratively and literally, had people squinting hard at Jordan to see his motives. It drove whispers that NBA commissioner David Stern imposed the hiatus (i.e., unofficial suspension) on the game's biggest star because of his gambling habit. It raised questions about Jordan's hubris, and the cockeyed notion that he could nimbly slide over from hardwood to diamond with anything approaching proficiency. It even impressed some of his basketball buddies, considering how he set himself up to struggle and even fail in such a public way.

"Sometimes, with greatness, you get kind of bored, maybe,'' Pinckney said, like most of us, merely guessing. "You've destroyed the competition and there's kind of nowhere left to go. He never, at least I think, looked at [basketball] from just a numbers standpoint -- 'I want to get to some big total, points-wise.' His thing was, 'I just want to win championships, and I've won [three], so what else do I have left? Maybe I'll try some baseball.' ''

There was something of a multisport sweet spot in play at the time, with Jackson and Deion Sanders and one or two others trying to excel at different games. It didn't last. To Pinckney, at least, Jordan's swoosh-clad toe-dip into baseball at least encouraged other athletes to challenge themselves in new ways.

"Michael sort of set the standard, in terms of how guys think about the game off the court, with endorsements and how they're supposed to conduct themselves,'' Pinckney said. "That, I think, now spills into the summertime as well. Guys try to find different things to do, whether it be acting or whatever. But I've never heard a guy like LeBron [James] saying, 'In a couple of years, I'm going to try to be a tight end.' If he did, it might be pretty good, but ... ''

Or then again, not.

"Lester Hayes was one of the last guys who did something,'' McHale said of two-sport ambitions. Told that he probably meant Bob Hayes, the Olympic sprinter-turned-NFL Hall of Fame receiver, McHale didn't blink. "Considering they've been trying it for a long time and I have to go back to Bob Hayes to give you a name, how do you think that's working out for them?

block skill


A defensive player is permitted to establish a legal guarding position in the path of a dribbler regardless of his speed and distance.

A defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive play-er once he has started his shooting motion.

A defensive player must allow a moving player the distance to stop or change direction when the offensive player receives a pass outside the lower defensive box.

A defensive player must allow an alighted player the distance to land and then stop or change direction when the offensive player is outside the lower defensive box.

A defensive player is permitted to establish a legal guarding position in the path of an offensive player who receives a pass inside the lower defensive box regardless of his speed and distance.

A defensive player must allow an alighted player who receives a pass the space to land when the offensive player is inside the lower defensive box.

A defensive player must allow a moving offensive player without the ball the distance to stop or change direction.

The speed of the offensive player will determine the amount of distance a defensive player must allow.

If an offensive player causes contact with a defensive player who has estab-lished a legal position, an offensive foul shall be called and no points may be scored.

A defensive player may turn slightly to protect himself, but is never allowed to bend over and submarine an opponent.

An offensive foul should never be called if the contact is with a secondary defensive player who has established a defensive position within a designated "restricted area" near the basket for the purpose of drawing an offensive foul.

The "restricted area" for this purpose is the area bounded by an arc with a 4-foot radius measured from the middle of the basket.

EXCEPTION: Any player may be legally positioned within the "restricted area" if the offensive player receives the ball within the Lower Defensive Box.

The mere fact that contact occurs on these type of plays, or any other similar play, does not necessarily mean that a personal foul has been committed. The offi-cials must decide whether the contact is negligible and/or incidental, judging each situation separately.

dead ball


After the ball has been dead, it is put into play by a jump ball, throw-in or a free throw attempt. The game clock does not start until the ball is legally touched on the court by a player. However, any floor violation or personal foul which may occur will be penalized. The ball is live when it is placed at the disposal of the thrower-in, free throw shooter or is tossed by the official on a jump ball. Illegal contact, which occurs prior to the ball becoming live, will be ignored if it is not unsportsmanlike. The ball is alive when it is legally tapped by one of the participants of a jump ball, released by a thrower-in or released on a free throw attempt that will remain in play.

Violent acts of any nature


Violent acts of any nature on the court will not be tolerated. Players involved in altercations will be ejected, fined and/or suspended.

Officials have been instructed to eject a player who throws a punch, whether or not it connects, or an elbow which makes contact above shoulder level. If elbow contact is shoulder level or below, it shall be left to the discretion of the official as to whether the player is ejected. Even if a punch or an elbow goes undetected by the officials during the game, but is detected during a review of a videotape, that player will be penalized.

There is absolutely no justification for fighting in an NBA game. The fact that you may feel provoked by another player is not an acceptable excuse. If a player takes it upon himself to retaliate, he can expect to be subject to appropriate penalties.



(1) Each player when introduced, prior to the game, must be uniformly dressed.
(2) Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.
(3) Coaches and assistant coaches must wear a sport coat or suit coat.
(4) While playing, players must keep their uniform shirts tucked into their pants, and no T-shirts are allowed.
(5) The only article bearing a commercial 'logo' which can be worn by players is their shoes.



The goal is placed 10 feet (3.05m) above the court. Originally a basket was used, so the ball had to be retrieved after each made shot. Today an open-bottom hoop is used instead.

Originally, there was one umpire to judge fouls and one referee to judge the ball; the tradition of calling one official the "referee" and the other one or two the "umpires" has remained (the NBA, however, uses different terminology, referring to the lead official as "crew chief" and the others as "referees"). Today, both classes of officials have equal rights to control all aspects of the game. The NBA added a third official in 1988, and FIBA did so afterwards, using it for the first time in international competition in 2006. The use of video evidence to inform referee's decisions has always been banned, except in the case of determining whether or not the last shot of a period was attempted before time expired. This exception was introduced by the NBA in 2002 and adopted by FIBA in 2006. The NCAA, however, has permitted instant replay for timing, the value of a field goal (two or three points), shot clock violations, and for purposes of disqualifying players because of unsportsmanlike conduct. The NBA changed its rules starting in 2007 to allow officials the ability to view instant replay with plays involving flagrant fouls, similar to the NCAA. In Italy's LEGA A, an American football-style coach's challenge is permitted to challenge (at the next dead ball) an official's call on any situation similar to the NCAA.

The centre jump ball that was used to restart a game after every successful field goal was eliminated in 1938, in favour of the ball being given to the non-scoring team from behind the end line where the goal was scored, in order to make play more continuous. The jump ball was still used to start the game and every period, and to restart the game after a held ball. However, the NBA stopped using the jump ball to start the second through fourth quarters in 1975, instead using a quarter-possession system where the loser of the jump ball takes the ball from the other end to start the second and third periods, while the winner of that jump ball takes the ball to start the fourth period from the other end of the court.

In 1981, the NCAA adopted the alternating possession system for all jump ball situations except the beginning of the game, and in 2003, FIBA adopted a similar rule, except for the start of the third period and over time. In 2004, the rule was changed in FIBA that the arrow applies for all situations after the opening tap.

In 1976, the NBA introduced a rule to allow teams to advance the ball to the center line following any legal time-out in the final two minutes of the game. FIBA followed suit in 2006.

Scoring and court markings


Originally only the number of goals was counted, and when free throws were introduced they were considered one goal each. In 1896 this changed to two points for a field goal and one point for a free throw. The American Basketball Association introduced a three-point field goal, which was one scored from beyond the three-point field goal arc, when it began in 1967. FIBA introduced its three-point line 6.25 meters (20 ft. 6 in.) from the center of the basket in 1984. The NCAA adopted the three-point line at 19-feet, 9 inches in 1986. For the 2008-09 season, the distance has been expanded to 20-feet, 9-inches in men's games but remains at 19 ft. 9 in. for women's contests.

The restricted area, also known as the free throw lane, had its width increased from 6 feet to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.7 m) in 1951. In 1956, FIBA adopted a trapezoidal lane, 3.6 metres (11 ft 10 in) wide at the free throw line and 6 metres (19 ft 8 in) wide at the baseline. In 1961, the NBA increased this width to 16 feet (4.9 m). Both these lanes have since remained.

On April 26, 2008, FIBA announced what it called "historic changes" to its rule set which will result in its court markings being much more similar to those of the NBA. These changes will take effect for FIBA's major competitions (Olympic basketball, world championships at senior, under-19, and under-17 levels, and zone/continental championships) on October 1, 2010, after the 2010 World Championships for men and women, and for other competitions on October 1, 2012. The list of changes is:[3]

* FIBA will adopt the rectangular restricted area, with the same dimensions as the NBA.
* The three-point line will move to 6.75 m (22 ft 1.7 in) from the center of the basket.
* FIBA will adopt the "no-charge semicircle" currently used in the NBA. An offensive player cannot be called for charging if the defensive player is within this semicircle near the defender's basket. The NBA's semicircle is 4 feet (1.22 m), while the FIBA semicircle will be 1.25 m (4 ft 1.2 in), both measured from the center of the basket.

In High School basketball, a five second count must start if a defender is less than 6 feet from from the player. The count resets if the player puts the ball on the floor or if the defender is greater than 6 feet away.

Fouls, free throws and violations


Dribbling was not part of the original game, but was introduced in 1901. At the time, a player could only bounce the ball once, and could not shoot after he had dribbled. The definition of dribbling became the "continuous passage of the ball" in 1909, allowing more than one bounce, and a player who had dribbled was then allowed to shoot.

Running with the ball ceased to be considered a foul in 1922, and became a violation, meaning that the only penalty was loss of possession. Striking the ball with the fist has also become a violation. From 1931, if a closely guarded player withheld the ball from play for five seconds, play was stopped and resumed with a jump ball; such a situation has since become a violation by the ball-carrier. Goaltending became a violation in 1944, and offensive goaltending in 1958.

Free throws were introduced shortly after basketball was invented. In 1895, the free throw line was officially placed fifteen feet (4.6 m) from the basket, prior to which most gymnasiums placed one twenty feet (6.1 m) from the basket. From 1924, players that received a foul were required to shoot their own free throws. One free throw shot is awarded to a player who was fouled while making a successful field goal attempt. If the field goal attempt is unsuccessful, or if the player was not fouled in the act of shooting, two free throw shots are awarded (three if the player was attempting a three-point field goal).

Charge is physical contact between an offensive player and a defensive player. In order to draw an offensive charge the defensive player must establish legal guarding positioning in the path of the offensive player. If contact is made, the officials would issue an offensive charge. No points will be allowed and the ball is turned over. The defensive player may not draw an offensive charge in the "restricted zone" (see below for more details). [2]

Blocking is physical contact between the offensive player and the defensive player. Blocking fouls are issued when a defensive player interferes with the path of the offensive player in the shooting motion. Blocking fouls are easily called when the defensive player is standing in the "restricted zone".[2]

Restricted zone: In 1997, the NBA introduced an arc of a 4-foot (1.22 m) radius around the basket, in which an offensive foul for charging could not be assessed. This was to prevent defensive players from attempting to draw an offensive foul on their opponents by standing underneath the basket. FIBA will adopt this arc with a 1.25 m (4 ft 1.2 in) radius starting in 2010

Shot clock and time limits


The first time restriction on possession of the ball was introduced in 1933, where teams were required to advance the ball over the center line within ten seconds of gaining possession. This rule remained until 2000, when FIBA reduced the requirement to eight seconds, the NBA following suit in 2001.

In 1936 the three-second rule was introduced. This rule prohibits offensive players from remaining near their opponents' basket for longer than three seconds (the precise restricted area is also known as the lane or the key). A game central to this rule's introduction was that between the University of Kentucky and New York University. Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp did not take one of his referees with him, despite being warned of discrepancies in officiating between the midwest and east by Notre Dame coach George Keogan, and the game became especially rough. While the rule was originally adopted to reduce roughness in the area between big men, it is now considered to prevent tall offensive players from gaining an advantage by waiting close to the basket. When the NBA started to allow zone defense in 2001, a three-second rule for defensive players was also introduced.

The shot clock was first introduced by the NBA in 1954, to increase the speed of play. Teams were then required to attempt a shot within 24 seconds of gaining possession, and the shot clock would be reset when the ball touched the basket's rim or the backboard, or the opponents gained possession. FIBA adopted a 30-second shot clock two years later, resetting the clock when a shot was attempted. Women's basketball adopted a 30-second clock in 1971. The NCAA adopted a 45-second shot clock for men while continuing with the 30-second clock for women in 1985. The men's shot clock was then reduced to 35 seconds in 1993. FIBA reduced the shot clock to 24 seconds in 2000, and changed the clock's resetting to when the ball touched the rim of the basket. Originally, a missed shot where the shot clock expired while the ball is in the air constituted a violation. In 2003 the rule was changed so that the ball remains live in this situation, as long as it touched the rim.

Players, substitutes and teams and teammates


Naismith's original rules did not specify how many players were to be on the court. In 1900, five players became standard, and players that were substituted were not allowed to re-enter the game. Players were allowed to re-enter a game once from 1921, and twice from 1934; such restrictions on substitutions were abolished in 1945 when substitutions became unlimited. Coaching was originally prohibited during the game, but from 1949, coaches were allowed to address players during a time-out.

Originally a player was disqualified on his second foul. This limit became four fouls in 1911 and five fouls in 1945, still the case in most forms of basketball where the normal length of the game (before any overtime periods) is 40 minutes. When the normal length is 48 minutes (this is the case with the National Basketball Association in the United States and the National Basketball League in Australia, among others) a player is accordingly disqualified on his sixth foul,

Rules of basketball


The rules of basketball are the rules and regulations that govern the play, officiating, equipment and procedures of basketball. Most leagues, including the National Basketball Association, govern their own rules. In addition, the Technical Commission of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) determines rules for international play.

James Naismith published his rules for the game of "Basket Ball" that he invented:

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, but 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 running at good speed.
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, striking, pushing, or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next basket is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in Rule 5.
7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime 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 (without falling), 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 and played by the first person touching it. In case of 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 the 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 people 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 baskets, with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
13. The side making the most points in that time is declared the winner.

This game is very different than the one played today. For example, dribbling and most physical contact are not allowed. Some of this evolution is discussed below.