NBA Gets It Right With Recent Rule Changes

By Brian Skinnell
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Time and time again this past season did we hear someone say how the NBA needed to expand the instant-replay rule to the always controversial blocking versus charging call. Well, Thursday at the NBA Board of Governors meeting, the NBA heeded those suggestions.

While there were five rules that were put in place during the meeting, the most notable is that of the three new uses of instant replay. The following is an expert from an official report on the leagues website. It explains the new installations of the instant replay rule.

• When reviewing a block/charge play to determine whether the defender was inside or outside the restricted area, officials will now be permitted to reverse a charge call, or uphold a blocking call, when the defender was outside the restricted area but was not set when the offensive player began his upward shooting motion.
• To determine whether an off-ball foul occurred before or after a player has started his shooting motion on a successful shot attempt, or before or after the ball was released on a throw-in.
• During the review of any instant replay situation to permit the officials to assess the appropriate penalties of any unsportsmanlike and unnecessary acts (e.g. flagrant fouls) that are observed during the instant replay reviews.

The change that will have the most impact on the game will be the first one. Referees will be able to go to the instant replay monitor to determine whether or not a player was inside or outside of the restricted area under a basket when the controversial blocking/charging call is made.

The most intriguing addition to the rule book in the uses of instant replay is the third one. Whenever a referee goes to the instant replay monitor to review a call, say a blocking/charging call, and they see some form of unsportsmanlike conduct in the replay, they are allowed to make the unsportsmanlike call and asses the penalty as needed.

The two other rule changes that were enacted by the NBA Board of Governors have to do with the “clear path to the basket” fouls and how teams can conduct themselves when on the offensive end. The following is another expert from the same article on the leagues website as mentioned above.

• On clear path to the basket fouls, it will no longer be considered a clear path foul if at any point before the foul is committed, the defender who commits the foul is positioned ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt.
• A team on offense will lose possession if its player leaves the floor and does not immediately return to the floor, unless he is injured, attempting to save the ball or in other extenuating circumstances.

The first rule change listed above deals with a foul call that got more and more attention as the season wore on. The “clear path to the basket” foul is something that had quite a lot of gray area as to what is and what isn’t a clear path. Hopefully this rule change will help clear some of that up. On a related side note, it would be interesting to see if the NBA would enable referees to check the instant replay to make sure of this call is correct when the make it.

Rule change number five from the meeting, the final bullet-note above, creates some gray area and could lead to some controversy in the upcoming season. Referees have some discretion in determining what is and isn’t an “extenuating circumstance”. It should be interesting to see how they’ll enforce it.

Following the meeting, NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a press conference that the board did feel the newly instated flopping rule served it’s purpose this past season. He also went on to say that there won’t be any further changes to that rule.

Brian Skinnell is a writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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