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Ask Donnie: Q&A with NBA Director of Officials Don Vaden

POSTED: Mar 26, 2013 2:45 PM ET


Have a question about NBA officiating? Confused on a rule interpretation? Send your questions to Donnie Vaden, the NBA's VP of Referee Operations and Director of Officials. Send an email to: Questions submitted that are not in regards to a rule interpretation or a generic question about NBA Officiating will not be reviewed. Questions regarding specific calls in games will not be answered.

Here is Donnie's latest Q&A:

Ask Donnie 1 | Ask Donnie 2

Q: While playing in a game with some colleagues, we had a debate over a ruling in our game. Can a player save the ball from going out of bounds by tapping it back on to the court, then end up running out of bounds due to momentum, and then come back on to the court and be the first player to touch the ball on the court?

A: Yes, as long as the ball was tapped and not thrown back onto the court with control. If the player going out of bounds throws the ball with control back onto the court, it's as if he's passing the ball to himself, which is illegal.

Q: If a player is dribbling down the open court on a fast-break, and while the ball is out of the player's hands and in the process of bouncing up from the ground, the player then catches and takes control of the ball with both hands, lands on his left foot, then takes two steps (right foot then left) to finish with a lay-up or dunk. Is this a travelling violation?

A: A player is allowed two steps after gathering the ball (that is, gaining control upon ending a dribble or receiving a pass) If a player gathers the ball while in the air, his first foot to touch the floor is counted as step one and the next is step two. If, however, a player gathers the ball while one foot is on the floor, his next step is step one and the following step two. Normally a player has one foot on the floor when ending his dribble, and so he is permitted two more steps. Determining all of this in real time is difficult (especially the point of gather) given the speed and athleticism of NBA players. It is a call referees are always working to improve.

Q: I am part of an amateur basketball league and the referees are arguing over the held ball rule. Some say if someone on the offense is holding the ball and a defender comes over and places his two-hands on the ball it results in a jump-ball. Others say that if the one with the ball has the ball against his chest, no jump-ball can be called. Others say that there must be a fight for possession with no player having the upper-hand on the ball for it to result in a jump-ball. Please clarify the rule for us.

A: In the NBA, a held ball occurs when two opponents have one or both hands firmly on the ball that neither can gain sole possession without undue roughness. If an offensive player has the ball to his chest, and a defensive player can lay one or two hands on the ball without fouling the offensive player, a jump-ball would be administered. There is no requirement that there is a fight for possession.

Q: Assume defensive player B1 fouls offensive player A1 hard during a shot attempt, and then there is some shoving between B1 and A1 after the foul. If the referees asses a Flagrant on B1 for the contact and technical on him for the following action, how is it administered?

A: Referees first go to replay to confirm the flagrant foul occurred. At that time, they may also look at the ensuing altercation to confirm who was involved and what was done. If they come out as you state (Flagrant 1 for the contact and a technical for the following action on B1), then the technical foul is shot first, with any player from Team A who was on the court at the time permitted to take the free throw. If the A1's initial shot attempt was unsuccessful, he would shoot two free throws (or three if it was a three-point attempt), and then team A would retain possession of the ball. If A1's initial shot was successful, whether a 2-pointer or 3-pointer, A1 would receive two free throw chances to score one point and team A would retain possession after the shot or shots were taken.

Q: I'm a coach to a local division in Thessaloniki, Greece. I have 2 questions:

> 1. When does the possession end in the NBA on a shot attempt? Is it when the player takes the shot (releases the ball from his hand), or is it when the rebound is secured? Does it make a difference if it is an offensive or defensive team rebounds?

> 2. If when both teams are in the bonus, offensive player A1 shoots the ball and misses, and then player A2 fouls player B2 while trying to secure the rebound, how is it administered? Does player B2 get to shoot free throws?

A: #1 - Control ends when a player attempts a field goal, but the team possession does not end unless the ball hits the rim. If it hits the rim, the shot clock is restarted and a new possession begins as soon as a player from team A or B secures the rebound. If the shot attempt misses the rim, there is no new possession and the shot clock continues the count down.

#2 -- This is a loose ball while the team is in the penalty, so yes, B2 shoots two free throws. .