5 weird NBA rules you didn't know about - Part 1

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five
Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five

It's not every day that rules are violated in bizarre ways in basketball, but this is a sport that has by far the most rules and regulations and interpretations of the top 10 most popular ball games on the planet. FIBA itself has a thick rulebook with at least 2000 interpretations up to my knowledge, but NBA basketball ramps the thickness of the rulebook up a notch even from there.

There are rules regulating everything a player does on and off the court, including rules regarding clothing, sleeves, mannerisms and fans. In this article, we do a run through of some bizarre rules in the best professional basketball league on the planet that are different from those in other competitions, but are still as weird as they come.

Without further ado, the following are 5 of the weirdest rules that exist in the NBA rule book.


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#1 Jump-ball mixup

If both teams mix-up jump ball sides at the start of the game and one of the teams scores on the opposite side, the referee has 24 seconds of game time to correct it. If even the referees get confused and realize later than 24 seconds, the game continues as if the correct sides were chosen.

The field goals scored till that point are considered legitimate and sides are reversed in the following half. If this same violation occurs at a time other than the start of the game, the teams change sides at the end of that quarter and are supposed to keep scoring on the 'wrong' side for the rest of the duration of that period.

In recorded NBA history (from Wilt Chamberlain's heyday in 1959 onwards), there have been no such instances of a mixup of such a magnitude. Of course, professional players know when not to screw up a simple thing. If JR Smith were a center, though.......

#2 Kicking the ball

You are not allowed to strike the ball with any part of your body apart from your hands
You are not allowed to strike the ball with any part of your body apart from your hands

The rule is actually regarding "striking the ball". What this means is that any kind of intentional move that redirects ball's movement other than regular usage of hands (dribbling, holding, passing) is considered striking. This means intentional punching, striking, shoulder-bumping or using any body part intentionally to alter the trajectory of the ball is considered a violation and the ball is turned over.

The punch rule was introduced due to fans safety. Imagine an absolute unit like Steven Adams or LeBron diving into the stands, while the only possible way to save it is to punch it, but he makes a full swing, misses the ball and there's a skinny dude of 130 pounds enjoying his Pepsi on the receiving end of such a punch?

I bet Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) would have punched a dozen balls while jumping into the stands every game if this rule didn't exist.

#3 The Disaster Draft

One can only hope that this rule is never used
One can only hope that this rule is never used

This is a rule that hopefully will never have to be used in the NBA. The rule states that if there would be an accident where at least five players of a single NBA team die, there would be an emergency draft that allows the team to pick players to complete their roster from every other team in the league.

In that case, each team could protect 5 players and the affected team could draft the other players that are not protected by a team, one player per team (they can't take 2 undefended players from the same roster).

So for instance, if this rule was in place in Division 1 football in 1958, Manchester United would have been able to draft players from the other teams in the division after the disaster of Munich.

#4 The foul-out rule with a twist

This rule has not been used in the NBA yet
This rule has not been used in the NBA yet

If a player receives his sixth foul but there are no eligible players remaining on the bench, the said player can remain on the court, or be replaced by one of the non-ejected players on the bench who may have fouled out like the concerned player (an ejected player has received a flagrant 2 and has to head down to the locker room, while a fouled-out player can still watch the game from the bench).

However, every foul committed by this player or the player replacing him will be counted as a personal, a team as well as a technical foul, meaning that the opposition team will receive 3 free throws instead of 2 for a blocking foul on a 2-pointer, and 4 free throws instead of 3 for a blocking foul on a 3-pointer.

This rule hasn't been used in the NBA, but college basketball has a different set of rules which makes the game a 4v5 for the fouling team.

#5 6th man on the court

It is not illegal to have a 6th man on the floor
It is not illegal to have a 6th man on the floor

If a team has somehow managed to field a 6th player on the court, it is not technically 'illegal' till the referees realize it. This 6th player can even score a field goal and that will be counted - until the referees mend their errors and award the offending team a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Needless to say, no team in NBA history has ever been caught flouting this particular rule, for basketball has always and will always be played at the highest levels in a 5v5 format. Professional basketball clubs understand how much they need to respect the game in order to create a following for themselves, and stunts like this serve only to tarnish that image.

Just picture Rajon Rondo looking up to find an extra 3-point shooter sitting in the corner while he makes a Rondo fake and looks to score or pass to an open man...

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