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Pro Basketball Rules

Professional basketball has grown to become one of the most popular spectator sports in North America. The National Basketball Association is the top professional league, and it attracts many of the best athletes in all of sports. The rules of professional basketball are somewhat different than the game played at the high school and college level.

Key Dimensions of the Court
The professional basketball court is 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. The free throw line is 15 feet from the face of the backboard. The three-point line is 23 feet, 9 inches from the front of the rim. The backboard should be 6 feet wide and 3 feet, 6 inches vertically. Professional basketballs are filled with 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 lbs. of air pressure.

Game Length
An official NBA game lasts 48 minutes. It is divided into four 12-minute quarters. If the game is tied at the end of regulation, a five-minute overtime period will be played. If the game is tied at the end of the overtime, subsequent overtime periods will be played until the tie is broken. There is no limit on the number of overtimes played and there can be no tie games. The clock is stopped on all foul calls, violations and timeouts. Time is stopped when a player shoots free throws.

Players cannot collide with each other or make physical contact. If a player who is shooting the ball is impacted by an opponent physically, he gets two free throws if he misses his shot from the field. If he makes that shot, he gets one free throw. A player who is fouled while taking a three-point shot gets three free throws. If an offensive player initiates contact, he is called for a foul and the defensive team gets possession of the ball. If a player commits six fouls in a game, he is ejected. If a team commits five fouls in a quarter, the opponent is said to be in the "bonus" and gets free throws the next time a foul is committed, whether the player was shooting or not.

Players who start their dribble, stop and then resume their dribble are in violation. This is called a double dribble and the opponent is awarded possession of the ball. Players cannot move while in possession of the ball without dribbling. Teams have 24 seconds to launch a shot that contacts the rim after taking possession of the ball. If they do not, the opponent gets the ball. Players cannot dribble or throw the ball out of bounds. Possession goes to the opponent for that violation.