The Double Dribble Rule And What It Means

September 3, 2015 by  
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As a child, your first game of basketball is a world of discovery. As you are not allowed to run with the ball it is important to learn to dribble it, and this is something that plays a very important part in the smooth running of the game. Many novice players, aware that they have to keep bouncing the ball, will feel more comfortable doing so with both hands. Once you are in a league game, though, this is actually against the rules, giving as it does an unfair advantage to the team in possession.

The “double dribble” rule is one of basketball’s more esoteric ones, and is rarely seen in action in the NBA due to the tactical importance of retaining possession until you are in position to score. The most common infraction under the double dribble rule is when a player comes to a stop and takes the ball in both hands before looking around for a pass, and continuing to dribble if they see no options. Once you have stopped still to look around, it is obligatory to either attempt a shot or pass the ball to a team mate,

The reason that this is so important is that carrying the ball is illegal, and stopping with the ball in both hands is a clear effort to retain the ball without the risk of an opponent taking hold of it. In basketball, the continued recycling of possession is an important part of the game, and for a player to effectively carry the ball with him is an unfair excessive protection of the ball.

The Shot Clock – And Why It Is Important

September 3, 2015 by  
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Basketball is considered to be one of the fastest ball sports there is, and there are a number of rules in place to ensure that this remains the case. One such rule is the shot clock, which is used in the NBA and most professional and amateur leagues to ensure that teams do not simply play possession basketball when their team is in the lead, making it impossible for their opponents to get the ball back quickly and without attempting an offensive move.

The shot clock is in place from the moment a team gets possession of the ball, and counts down from twenty-four seconds. After that time has elapsed, the team in possession will be penalised if it has not attempted a shot at the basket. The clock is reset the moment a player attempts a shot at the basket or loses possession of the ball. Once the ball is back in the hands of a player on either team, the shot clock resumes counting down from twenty-four seconds.

If a team does keep possession without attempting a shot, the ball is turned over to their opponents at the sideline nearest to the point where the infraction was committed. This ensures that at any given time the team in possession of the ball must be looking to complete an offensive move by attempting a basket before their twenty-four seconds are up. Teams in the lead by a small score with time running out will still endeavor to use all of the shot clock before attempting a shot, but cannot do it for any longer than the specified 24 seconds.

Basketball Legends: Phil Jackson

September 3, 2015 by  
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When talking of the true legends of basketball, people always tend to refer to players – those who have scored a lot of baskets, have made important baskets, or have made assists to other players or stopped opposing players from scoring. However, no pantheon of basketball legends could ever be complete without paying tribute to the name of Phil Jackson – probably the greatest head coach in the history of the game. In the first 20 years of his coaching career Jackson won ten NBA titles, and he is still going. That means that half of the completed seasons in his career have ended with the ultimate prize.

If that’s not enough for you, then think on this. Only five times in the history of basketball has a team carried out a “three-peat” – winning three NBA titles back to back. On three of those occasions, the team was coached by Phil Jackson (twice with the Chicago Bulls in the 90s, and with the Los Angeles Lakers at the beginning of the 21st Century). The last time it happened with anyone other than Phil Jackson coaching was in the 1950s. There is no doubting that Phil Jackson has been blessed with talented players, but it says something that the tandem offense of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant finally kicked into gear in 1999 when Jackson arrived in Los Angeles.

Sometimes it isn’t the players that win titles. Sometimes it is the tactics and the game plan. If you were to select one man to put together the perfect game plan, Phil Jackson would have to be that man.

Basketball Legends: Kobe Bryant

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Although Michael Jordan is most people’s choice for the title of Greatest NBA Player, he may not be the most talked-about player of all time. For reasons which have occasionally drawn him into off-court controversy and for his startling achievements on the court, Kobe Bryant has to be considered one of the biggest names in the sport, and is certainly one of the most storied active NBA players. Like many others, he was marked for greatness from the beginning, entering the NBA Draft in 1996 at the age of 17 and therefore skipping college.

Drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, Bryant was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and although he saw limited playing time, he was soon trusted with more time on the court. This did not always end the way he would have hoped, with one game against the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs seeing Bryant miss three makeable shots that would have extended the series for the Lakers. Yet as Shaquille O’Neal remarked, it was telling that a player so young would even try such high-pressure shots.

With the arrival of the guru coach Phil Jackson at the Lakers in 1999, Bryant’s career really took off. Jackson’s tactical brain had been the key to the Chicago Bulls’ history-making decade of domination in the 1990s, and as the new century began the Lakers managed a three-peat of their own, with Bryant and O’Neal taking a starring role as the team won NBA Championships back-to-back-to-back in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Basketball Legends: Larry Bird And Magic Johnson

September 3, 2015 by  
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Although each player achieved enough during their career to legitimately have earned the title of legend by themselves, the story of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson is one that is more properly told as a two-hander. The players were rivals in their college years as two of the most promising up-and-coming players and when they entered the NBA it was as part of the same draft in 1979 that both players joined. They would renew their rivalry there, Bird with the Boston Celtics and Johnson with the Los Angeles Lakers.

During the careers of Bird and Johnson, the Celtics and Lakers would meet in the NBA Finals series three times, with the Celtics triumphing in 1984, the Lakers avenging that result the following year, and an injury-plagued Boston team coming up short in 1987 as the Lakers won the series 4-2. Nonetheless, Bird would match a record held by only two other players in the history of the game at that time by picking up three consecutive league MVP awards in 1984, 85 and 86.

Perhaps united by their shared experience of a game that had been in the doldrums with the US public before their entry into the league, but was given a shot in the arm by their arrival on the scene, Bird and Johnson are now close friends. After a spell as a coach at the Indiana Pacers, Bird is now a team president while Johnson, who tested HIV positive in 1991, is a charity spokesperson in the fight against AIDS. His HIV has never mutated into AIDS, and he has become a figurehead for GlazoSmithKline.

Basketball Legends: Wilt Chamberlain

September 3, 2015 by  
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In the pantheon of basketball greats, most people hold that the greatest ever to play the game was Michael Jordan. However, if there is to be a challenger to that title, the most deserving person to take that mantle would have to be Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain. His nickname was taken from the fact that Chamberlain’s height at the time of his NBA career was a massive seven feet and one inch. At one time in his career he weighed 300 lbs, and he is the only player ever to have scored 100 points in a single NBA match – for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks.

The “Stilt” nickname was actually coined during his high school days by a sportswriter in his native Philadelphia, and in actual fact the name was disliked by Chamberlain himself, who felt that it pigeonholed him simply as a tall person. Like it or not, the name stuck and as Chamberlain went on to be one of the greatest players ever to play the game it has lived on even after his death in 1999, at the age of 63. In life and as a player of the game, Chamberlain was broadly admired, considered a thoroughly nice person even in light of the claims in his 1991 autobiography that he had slept with close to 20,000 women in his life.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Chamberlain’s career point-scoring record is that it was achieved entirely before the introduction of the three-point rule, meaning that all of his baskets earned only two points each. Additionally, he had a famously atrocious record from one-point free throws (although on the day that he scored a hundred points in a game he managed to hit 28 out of 32 free throws – a career anomaly).

Basketball Legends: Michael Jordan

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In most sports, there will be long and heated conversations daily about who was the best ever to play it. Was the best soccer player Pélé, or Diego Maradona? Is Roger Federer the best tennis player of all time, or was it Rod Laver, or someone else? In basketball, these conversations do happen, but there is more of a consensus than in possibly any other sport. People will continually state that the greatest ever basketball player was Michael “Air” Jordan. And seeing his career achievements it is hard to disagree.

It is true that Jordan was for much of his career part of a team that would make any player look good – team mates like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc would certainly have walked on to most other teams and been the star player – but that does not account for his many achievements, including a record six Most Valuable Player awards for the NBA finals and ten NBA scoring titles. He also showed he was no slouch on defense, winning nine nominations to the All-Defensive team during his storied career.

There are other players who have matched Michael Jordan in certain categories, but none who have ever achieved the dominance he did in as many different categories. His Chicago Bulls years saw the team do the unheard of – twice winning three consecutive NBA titles in the space of one decade (the 1990s), and although he was able to call on the rare talents of a sublime supporting cast, Michael Jordan is the name most associate with that rare period of dominance.

The NBA – A Sports League And A Cultural Movement

September 3, 2015 by  
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Basketball has taken a place in the hearts of so many people throughout the world that it is considered the number one sport in many countries, and a close second in many others. Although its global reach is still slightly behind that of football, basketball has given the world some of its most recognizable sports stars. Names like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and others have become household names far beyond their native USA, and the vests worn on the court have become a popular fashion item.

It has got to a point where people wear basketball merchandise often without really knowing much about the sport. The wearing of basketball vests in countries far neyond the shores of America is so widespread that it is something of a lottery as to whether someone wearing a Chicago Bulls shirt with “Jordan 23” on the back of it actually knows what a player Michael Jordan was. Within America, he is a sports icon. To a lot of others, he’s the guy in SpaceJam.

There could be a lot of arguing done as to whether this is a bad thing. Certainly, it is a little misleading to suggest that Michael Jordan is not known for his sporting ability in countries outside America. All over the world the NBA is shown on cable or terrestrial TV, and people in dozens of countries watched the all-conquering Chicago Bulls side of the 1990s carry all before them. If as a result, there are a few people wearing Bulls shirts who know little or nothing about the sport, then that’s how life is.

Three Is The Magic Number

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Landing a three-point shot is a skill that takes a lot of practice and a lot of natural ability, and an adept three-point shooter can be worth a great deal to a basketball team. It carries an element of risk – and this is why it is best left to the ones who have mastered the skill – but a good three-point shot can turn a game.

The niceties of the three point shot are as follows: In basketball there is an area underneath the basket from which shots are easier to make than others – this area is called the key. Outside that area runs an arc, a semi circle from which shots are worth the same as all shots inside the key – two points. Outside the semi-circle, anywhere else on the court, a successful shot earns you three points.

Obviously, the further you are from the net, the harder it is to shoot accurately. Some players, whose talents are most in evidence inside the key, might never try a single three-point shot all season. There are others who practise three-point shooting, and who are usually the ones that team-mates will try to give the ball with time running out and a deficit of around ten points.

Some of the most amazing three-point shots are complete luck, stabs in the dark from a team who have the ball deep in their half of the court with time running out. Under normal circumstances, you would prefer to be standing on the very edge of the three-point line to give yourself the best chance of hitting it – but that is not always possible.

The Slam Dunk

September 3, 2015 by  
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Basketball is one of the most influential sports, culturally speaking, in the whole world. If you are looking for proof of this, then one of the clearest examples is the commonplace nature of the phrase “slam dunk”. From its original meaning as a type of basketball shot it has become almost as popular beyond the world of basketball as something that describes an endeavor that is easily and emphatically achieved. “Did you pass that exam?” “Oh yeah – it was a slam dunk!”.

To witness a slam dunk is quite something. It is not the most graceful of moves, not known for its finesse, but for players who have mastered the skill it is extremely effective. By powering through a clear run to the basket – or clearing the way themselves – physically powerful players can get themselves in a position to place themselves where they can jump high enough to actually get above the basket and power the ball down through the hoop. For greater emphasis you might hang on to the basket as you come down. It is something of a show-off move.

Having an accomplished slam dunk merchant in your team can be worth a great deal when it comes to winning games. The emphatic nature of the manoeuver can give your team a real lift and demoralise the opposition. If a team is playing a strong defense and blocking off all jump shots, the slam dunk can burst right through them and leave them wondering: Just how do you stop that?

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