Friday, April 12, 2013

In Favor of NBA Goaltending Rules > FIBA's

In FIBA basketball, goaltending rules allow for the ball to be live after it hits the rim. In other words, what's known as basket interference in most of American basketball is a legal play in the international game.

Many, including outgoing commissioner David Stern, have called for the NBA to adopt the FIBA rules regarding basket interference.

I favor the American goaltending rules, and the wild finish to Tuesday's Rockets-Suns game helps illustrate why. For a quick recap, the game was tied 98-98 in the final seconds, when James Harden launched a three which bounced high in the air before hitting the rim again. Jermaine O'Neal knocked the ball away while it was still "within the cylinder" above the rim for the rare buzzer-beating goaltend on a three, which won the game for the Rockets. Here's a look at the play:

It's not a perfect illustration for a couple reasons: 1) The shot had little chance of going in on the second bounce and 2) O'Neal's hand appeared to partially come up under the rim, which is a goaltend under any rules, including FIBA's.

So, imagine a slightly different play, in which:
• Harden's shot had a softer second bounce, with a 50-50 chance of going in, and
• O'Neal simply knocked it away off the rim cleanly.

By FIBA goaltending rules for basket interference, that slightly different play would have been legal. Would that have been a fun play to watch? A satisfying way for regulation to have ended? To me, it would not.

A ball bouncing around and rolling on the rim, especially in an important moment -- Did the shooter put the ball up softly enough? Will he get the roll? -- is an exciting play!

There seems to be a sense that the FIBA rules would unleash an extra level of above-the-rim play in the NBA. But in reality, most instances of legal basket interference in FIBA basketball look an awful lot like O'Neal's play on Tuesday: a defensive big man reaches up and easily knocks the ball away off the rim, at about 10'1" in the air.

There's a theory that the superior athleticism of NBA players would lead to more spectacular putbacks on offensive rebounds with FIBA rules, but based on what we've seen from NBA players in Olympic and World Championship play, there are a few extra "guide-in" followups of balls on the rim.

Ultimately, the rule is not a major deal, as it affects a small percentage of plays. But I think the "shooter's roll" is more fun to watch than a "No soup for you!" denial by a big man reaching up to the rim.


At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're exactly right on this (and what an incredibly stupid play by O'neal). i'm always surprised by the LACK of such plays in FIBA. even in the olympics, Americans are so conditioned that I've NEVER seen a ball swatted off the rim. Make this legal, and the conditioning will go the other way and maybe 10% of all shots will be interfered with. not good.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Torsky said...

You could minimize this by not allowing basket interference after the buzzer sounded (i.e you have to leave buzzer-beaters alone on the rim).

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Torsky said...

Or have a rule that says you can't interfere with a shot on the final possession (which coincides with when refs have the ability to easily review on replay).

At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

10%, no way, it is not that easy, you don't have a player under the basket waiting to swat the ball,and of course after the buzzer no interference are allowed under FIBA rules. I would say that FIBA rules would favor the putbacks.

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At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fiba rules already deal with this problem:

FIBA Rules

31.2.5 When:

- An offical blows the whistle while the ball is in the hands of the player in the act of shooting, or the ball is in flight on a shot for a field goal,

- The game clock signals for the end of a period while the ball is in flight for a field goal,


So the first paragraph says that if a shooter is fouled putting up the ball, you can't touch the ball when it hits the ring, so if its an And-1 play, the fiba rule allowing you to touch the ball when it has already made contact with the ring doesn't apply. It completely forbids it.

The second paragraph of the rule applies to the JERMAINE O'NEAL example. If its a buzzer beating shot for the end of the period, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, OT. YOU CAN'T TOUCH THE BALL like Jermaine O'neal did. It would be called basket interference or goaltending.

The reason for this is that when a referee blows his whistle or the buzzer sounds for the end of a quarter, it technically becomes a dead ball situation. General rules just allow for the completion of an and-1 play. The legal interference rule contemplates a live ball situation which hits the rim rolls around or whatever, and play is still live.

In both cases, a foul being called, or the buzzer sounding, the ball turns dead. The live ball situation turns into a dead ball situation and thus players can't touch the ball anymore.

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At 1:48 PM, Blogger PBlogger said...

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At 1:50 PM, Blogger PBlogger said...

I completely agree that the NBA rules are better. Think about how many shots would be swatted off the rim. Maybe it would give us a better view of the player's basketball shoes but that's about it.

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