Basketball: From humble beginnings in North America, Basketball has grown into one of the most popular team sports in the world. It’s a truly global game: the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the UK, the world’s leading professional league, features players from more than 30 countries.
Field of play
The basketball court measures 28m long and 15m wide. The baskets at either end are 3.05m above the ground. The court is divided into two halves, with a free-throw line 5.8m inside either end, and the three-point line a 6.75m radius from each basket.
Basketball at Games
Men’s Basketball first appeared on the Olympic programme at the Berlin 1936 Games, with the women’s event introduced at Montreal 1976. Professional players first competed at the Barcelona 1992 Games, when the famous US ‘Dream Team’ won gold in the men’s event.
In Basketball points are scored by shooting the ball into your opponents’ net (or basket). The ball is moved up the court either by dribbling (bouncing) or passing to another team member. A player may not take more than two steps with the ball without dribbling the ball. Once in possession of the ball, a team has only 24 seconds to make an attempt on goal or they lose possession. Games last for 40 minutes, split into four 10-minute quarters.
At London 2012, both the men’s and women’s Basketball competitions will begin with a preliminary stage. The 12 teams will be divided into two groups of six and each team will play every other in their group. Teams receive two points for a win, and one for a loss (although they receive no points for losing by forfeiting the game).
A referee oversees each game, assisted by two umpires. There are also table officials and statisticians who record all the action. A game commissioner also sits with the table officials next to the court.
Assist: a pass that leads directly to a basket scored by a teammate
Downtown: is the area outside the three-point line
Dunk: a one or two-handed slam directly into the net
Shot clock: a timer measuring the length of time since the last shot