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The Fascinating story behind the 24 second shot clock of The NBA

Mohit Joshi
509   //    Timeless

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Two
Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Two

The beauty of basketball lies in its endlessly evolving nature. Through its history of more than 125 years, significant changes have been made in the sport. But none of them have had an impact like the '24 second shot clock'. Its introduction in 1954-55 changed the game forever and has had a huge positive impact on the game of basketball.

The 24-second shot clock is used to time the possessions by the offensive team. If a team does not attempt a field goal within 24 seconds of gaining possession of the ball, a violation is committed and possession is awarded to the other team.

But why was it introduced in the first place? The primary purpose of introducing the shot clock was to eliminate stalling. The team that was leading could keep possession of the ball and pass it around endlessly in order to maintain the lead by the end of the game.

This was against the true spirit of the game but there was no penalty for the team which used this strategy to their advantage. The fans would get bored and basketball became one of the slowest ball-games.

To put things into perspective - On November 22, 1950, when the Fort Wayne Pistons (present-day Detroit Pistons) defeated the Minneapolis Lakers (present-day Los Angeles Lakers) by a record-low score of 19–18, including 3–1 in the Fourth Quarter. In the current NBA scenario, you would see a similar score somewhere in the first quarter in an extremely low scoring start. Surely things needed to get revamped.

The shot clock first came to use when Syracuse Nationals (present-day Philadelphia 76'ers) owner Daniel Biasone experimented with the 24-second shot clock.

Daniel Biasone
Daniel Biasone

How did he arrive the magical number of 24?

Biasone was studying a game he enjoyed and realized that both the teams took around 60 shots. Biasone thought that a minimum of 120 shots in a game would kill the boredom in the game. Each basketball game was of 48 minutes. So if you shoot the ball every 24 seconds over the course of a 48-minute basketball game - that adds up to 120 shots!

After coming up with the idea in 1951, he spent three years trying to sell the idea to other owners in the League. After a few exhibitions games, the 24 second shot clock was finally adopted in 1954-55.


Biasone was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame in 2000 for his contributions to the sport. Following the introduction of the shot clock, the fouling rules were also revamped and laid the groundwork to the modern-day era of Basketball.

And this is how we ended up with the 24 second shot clock in the NBA!


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