Canadian Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball from 13 original rules. Because Naismith wanted a non-violent game that could be played inside, the first seven rules consist of set guidelines for play, with scoring not even mentioned until the eighth rule. Though the rules have been modified over time, the essential principles remain constant.

The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
Current: This rule is still true, as the ball can be thrown or passed in any direction. The only change to this rule is the backcourt violation. Once the ball has crossed midcourt, it cannot be passed behind the midcourt line unless touched by a defensive player first.


James Naismith created the game of basketball from 13 original rules.

The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands.
Current: The ball can still be batted away with one or both hands. It can be batted from a player's hands or batted away during a shot. This rule led to the evolution of the blocked shot, as defensive players can block a shot while it is on its upward path to the basket.

A player cannot run with the ball, as he must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, with allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed.
Current: A player cannot run with the ball, as he must dribble or pass the ball. A player running with the ball is called for travelling.

The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or the body must not be used for holding it.
Current: The ball can only be held in the hands or the arms of a player. A player cannot use his body to hold the ball or to obstruct the ball from getting to a player or going in the net.

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 person 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.
Current: The noted offences still apply today and result in fouls or even ejections. Like the Naismith rule, a player can be thrown out of a game for intent to injure. A flagrant foul is unnecessary or excessive contact against an opponent that results in two shots and possession of the ball. A player that commits a flagrant foul may be ejected from the game or suspended for a period of time.

A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of rules three and four and such described in rule five.
Current: NBA players today are permitted to be more creative, as they use passes like the chest pass, bounce pass, behind-the-back pass and even the occasional pass off the elbow, like the move of guard Jason Williams in the 2000 Rookie Challenge.

If either side makes consecutive fouls it shall count a goal for the opponents.
Current: Though this rule is no longer in effect, after five fouls in a quarter a team is in the penalty and the fouled team shoots two free throws.

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 edge and the opponent moves the basket it shall count as a goal.
Current: This rule has changed in the sense that the basket now has a hole in it and the ball does not stay there, it goes through. However, a player cannot touch the rim when the ball has been shot and is on its way to the basket. The goaltending violation originated from this rule.

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 a dispute the umpire shall throw it into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds and 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 them.
Current: The five-second rule still exists today and if a player does not throw the ball in within five seconds, the ball is turned over to the other team. The five-second rule also states that a player who is in-bounds must pass, shoot or dribble within five seconds or he will lose possession of the ball.

The umpire shall be the judge of 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 five.
Current: In the NBA today there are three referees who call fouls and determine ejections.

Basketball U The referee shall be the judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in-bounds, and 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.
Current: NBA referees still determine possession of the ball. However, there are separate timekeepers who monitor the game clock and check substitute players into a game. A scorekeeper keeps the statistics of a game such as the score, individual statistics and fouls.

The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with a five-minute rest between them.
Current: This has changed, as NBA games currently include two halves consisting of four 12-minute quarters. Games that are tied as time expires go into a five-minute overtime period. There is a 15-minute halftime break between the two halves.

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.
Current: The team with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner. If a game is tied, it goes into overtime, which continues until one team has more points at the end of a five-minute overtime period.