CCU: So You Think You Know Basketball?

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So You Think You Know Basketball?

The Official NBA Rule Book covers everything from equipment regulations to flagrant fouls. And while most fans have a pretty good grasp of the rules of NBA basketball, every now and then a weird situation comes up that leaves them baffled. Every month here at Cleveland Cavaliers University, we’ll present a unique basketball situation to test your knowledge.


In the second quarter of the Cavaliers game against the L.A. Clippers, LeBron James throws a pass to Damon Jones, who is standing near the sideline in front of the Clippers’ bench. The ball glances off Jones’ hand. As he is reaching for the ball, it hits Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, who is standing on the sideline. Who gets possession?

CCU: In this case, the Cavs get the ball. Cleveland is awarded possession at the free throw line extended since Jones would have recovered the ball if it had not touched coach Dunleavy. According to Rule 8, Section II, the Clippers interfered with a ball still in play. Additionally, Los Angeles is assessed a delay of game warning.


Everyone knows that the team with the ball has 8 seconds to advance it over the mid-court time line. But what happens here? After a field goal by the Sacramento Kings, Cavs guard Eric Snow brings the ball up the floor against full-court pressure. He throws a long pass into the frontcourt that is deflected by the Kings’ Mike Bibby. The ball bounces in the backcourt with 18 seconds showing on the shot clock, and Coles regains possession with 17 seconds left. How much time does he have to advance the ball over the mid-court line?

CCU: Coles has a full 8 seconds, or until ‘9’ is showing on the shot-clock. This situation is covered by Rule 4, Section VI – e. The 8-second rule ends when the ball breaks the plane of the midcourt line and not in player control. A new 8 seconds is allowed when a new possession is obtained in the backcourt.


Here’s an easy call. Or is it? LeBron James brings the ball up court. As he approaches mid-court, he steps over the time line with one foot, picks up his dribble and passes the ball horizontally to Drew Gooden. Drew, knowing LeBron has come into the front court with one foot, jumps from back court, catches the pass while in the air, and lands in the front court. What’s the call?

CCU: Actually, there is no call. Rule 4, Section VI tells us that as long as any part of James’ body is in the backcourt, the ball is considered in backcourt. Since Gooden caught the pass while he was in the air, and had not yet established position in the frontcourt, he too is considered in the backcourt. So even though James had one foot over the line, and Gooden caught the pass and landed over the line, this pass is considered simply a pass in the backcourt. No violation!


Sometimes the basketball takes funny bounces. Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas takes a shot that hits the back of the rim, bounces to the top of the backboard, rolls along the top and then drops in. Does it count? Finally, Magic guard Steve Francis takes a shot that also hits the rim, bounces to the top of the backboard, rolls along the top and then falls behind the backboard and lands in bounds. What happens?

CCU: Both situations are covered by Rule 4, Section I – c. All five sides of the backboard (top, bottom, both sides and front face) are in play. As long as Z’s shot stays on the top of the backboard, it is still in bounds. When it falls through the basket, the goal counts. But once the ball crosses over the backboard – regardless of where it comes to rest – it is out of bounds. So in the second case, the Magic lose possession.