The reasons behind the NBA’s most obscure rules
Officiating calls in the NBA are a flurry of hand movements and gestures, and can seem like a secret code or a foreign language to the uninitiated. Even for basketball diehards however, there are some less common rules that can stump us when these fouls are called from time to time.
Free throw violation: Free throws are a basic aspect of the game, gaining little notice. However, there are a bunch of rules to prevent an unfair advantage, the most common of which is the lane violation that stops players from entering the paint until the shooter releases the ball. Players are also not allowed to deflect the ball before it reaches the basket, which would be possible for athletic players. For the shooter, faking shots is not allowed, and there is a ten-second limit for taking shots.
Basket interference: The face of basket interference is the goaltending call, which often features otherwise-spectacular blocks that were timed incorrectly. However there is also a corresponding offensive basket interference rule, which prevents the offensive team from gaining an advantage since the defensive team is not allowed to rebound with the ball still on the rim. This applies not just to the rim, but to the backboard and net as well.
Time-based violations: The three in the key rule prevents big men from setting up shop under the basket, but there is a defensive version of the call known as illegal defense, which prevents teams from parking a behemoth in the paint too. Another time-based violation resulting from dominant post players is the five-second limit on back-to-the-basket moves, informally known as the ‘Barkley rule’. In addition, the shot clock is reset to 14 seconds after a foul to mitigate intentional fouling late in the shot clock as a tactic for forcing bad shots.
Clear path foul: This is an advantage-based call that awards two free throws and possession when a foul is committed on an offensive player who has a free path to the basket. This would reduce the incentive for dangerous fouls from behind in transition situations.