By J.A. Adande
As a longtime student of the game who devoured NBA videotapes as a youngster, Kobe Bryant didn't need to hear an explanation when his circus shot from behind the basket against the Thunder Sunday night was compared to Larry Bird's over-the-backboard shot in the 1980s.
But Bryant felt compelled to point out one key difference: "His didn't count."
Indeed, if you watch Bird clip you can see the official on the baseline immediately waving the basket off. (Even if it was no good it still warranted inclusion in NBA commercial -- and I'm also glad whoever posted that to YouTube also included the old "Fan-tastic" tagline).
Should Bryant's shot have been disallowed as well? A recent rule change actually allows shots from angles behind the basket. As explained by a league spokesman, the key is whether the ball travels through an imaginary box that extends backward in the dimensions of the backboard (similar to the invisible "cylinder" that goes up from the rim for goaltending purposes). For example, a shot launched from near the rim on the back side of the glass that went straight over the backboard and dropped through the hoop would not be legal because it would have traveled through the imaginary box. However, a ball can travel over the imaginary box.
From the replays it's difficult to tell if the ball went through the box before it reached its apex. The best look is from the overhead angle at the :29 mark of the video.
Bryant didn't have a name for the shot, just a description: "Lucky."