Basketball 101

Lots of fast-paced action, lots of high-stakes drama, and some of the tallest guys you've ever seen! This is a sport where even sometimes-fans would pay a small fortune for courtside seats, so here are a few rules of the game:

• The object of the game is to outscore one's opponents by throwing the ball through the opponents' basket from above while preventing the opponents from doing so on their own.

• An attempt to score is called a shot. A successful shot is worth two points, or three points if it is taken from very far away.

• NBA games are played in four quarters of 10 or 12 minutes. Teams exchange baskets for the second half.

• Overtime periods are five minutes in length.

• The time allowed is actual playing time; the clock is stopped while the play is not active. So like football, games generally take much longer to complete than the allotted game time, typically about two hours.

• NBA games are controlled by the officials consisting of the crew chief, one or two referees and the table officials.

• Five players from each team may be on the court at one time. The player positions are:

o Point guard: Known as the "1". Very agile, very strategic, and acts as sort of a team captain. Equivalent in importance to a football quarterback. Many times the point guard is the smallest on the team, despite the fact NBA point guards average 6' - 6'4 in height! Two exceptions to this rule were Magic Johnson and Lebron James, who were point guards, but much taller than average.

o Shooting guard: Known as the "2", is usually the team's best shooter, and typically is able to consistently hit long range shots of 20 feet or more. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan play this position.

o Small forward:
Known as the "3", is typically somewhat smaller and faster than power forwards and centers. The small forward position is generally the most versatile of the positions.

o Power forward:
The "4" plays a role similar to that of the center. Typical NBA power forwards are 6'9 to 6'11. Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley are two names you might recognize; they play the power forward position.

o Center: Referred to as the "5" or the "pivot", usually plays near the baseline, close to the basket (referred to as the "bottom of the key" or the "low post"). The tallest player is most likely to be assigned to the position of center, with typical NBA centers being about 7 feet in height. Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal play the center position.

See LeBron James in action:
 

See the Shaq and Kobe Bryant:

 


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