5 weird NBA rules you didn't know about - Part 1
#2 Kicking the ball
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.