On balls passing behind the backboard

By Henry Abbott

Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold told me that he thought Kobe Bryant's miraculous circus shot may have, in fact, been illegal.

It didn't take a lot of poking around in the rulebook to find ol' rule 8 II b:

Any ball that rebounds or passes directly behind the backboard, in either direction, from any point is considered out-of-bounds.

That is to be interpreted as a tunnel, with the height and width of the backboard, that extends back into infinity. If a pass or anything else passes through that space, it's out.

Watch the multiple-angle replays on Kurt's site, and you know what? I'm not at all sure. At about the :41 mark you can see the release point, as shot from a camera on the ceiling, and it's darn near behind the backboard at the moment of release, and its on it way further behind the board as it makes its way up.

However, once it gets above the top of the backboard, however, the ball is entitled to be wherever it wants. So what really matters is where it was in those few feet of travel between release, at a little under ten feet, and reaching passing the top of the backboard, about 13-and-a-half feet in the air.

At about the :50 mark, there's a shot from the opposite end of the floor. The angle is not perfect, but it seems likely to me that the ball did not enter the "no fly zone" behind the backboard.

Here's what I'm wondering, though: Why would you even want this shot on the borderline of legality? It's pretty much the greatest thing that happened to the NBA yesterday.