13. Comments on the Rules


I: Guides for Administration and Application of the Rules
II: Basic Principles
A: Contact Situations | B: Field Goal Attempt | C: Fouls: Flagrant-Unsportsmanlike
D: Charging-Blocking | E: Game Cancellation | F: Physical Contact-Suspension
G: Protest | H: Shattering Backboards | I: Player/Team Conduct and Dress
J: Offensive 3-Seconds | K: Player Conduct-Spectators | L: Punching,Fighting,Elbow Fouls
M: Expiration of Time | N: Verbal Fan Interference | O: Guidelines for Infection Control
P: Dead Ball, Live Ball, Ball is Alive | Q: Taunting

Section I. Guides for Administration and Application of the Rules

   Each official should have a definite and clear conception of his/her overall responsibility to include the intent and purpose of each rule. If all officials possess the same conception, there will be a guaranteed uniformity in the administration of all contests. The restrictions placed upon the player by the rules are intended to create a balance of play and equal opportunity for the defense and the offense, provide reasonable safety and protection for all players and emphasize cleverness and skill without unduly limiting freedom of action of players or teams.
   The primary purpose of penalties is to compensate a player who has been placed at a disadvantage through an illegal act of an opponent. A secondary purpose is to restrain players from committing acts which, if ignored, might lead to roughness even though they do not affect the immediate play. To implement this philosophy, many of the rules are written in general terms while the need for the rule may have been created by specific play situations. This practice eliminates the necessity for many additional rules and provides the officials the latitude and authority to adapt application of the rules to fit conditions of play in any particular game.

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II. Basic Principles

A. Contact Situations

1. Incidental Contact
     a. The mere fact that contact occurs does not necessarily constitute a foul. Contact which is incidental to an effort by a player to play an opponent, reach a loose ball, or perform normal defensive or offensive movements, should not be considered illegal. If, however, a player attempts to play an opponent from a position where she has no reasonable chance to perform without making contact with her opponent, the responsibility is on the player in this position.
     b. The hand is considered "part of the ball" when it is in contact with the ball. Therefore, contact on that hand by a defender while it is in contact with the ball is not illegal.

2. Guarding an Opponent
   In all guarding situations, a player is entitled to any spot on the court she desires, provided she gets to that spot first and without contact with an opponent. In all guarding situations during a live ball, a player is entitled to any spot on the court she desires, provided that she gets to the spot first without contact with an opponent. In all guarding situations during a dead ball, the defensive player(s) must be allowed to take a position between her opponent and the basket.
     a. In most guarding situations, the guard must be facing her opponent at the moment she assumes a guarding position after which no particular facing is required.
     b. A player may continue to move after gaining a guarding position in the path of an opponent provided she is not moving directly or obliquely toward her opponent when contact occurs. A player is never permitted to move into the path of an opponent after the opponent has jumped into the air.
     c. A player who extends an arm, shoulder, hip or leg into the path of an opponent and thereby causes contact is not considered to have a legal position in the path of an opponent.
     d. A player is entitled to an erect (vertical) position even to the extent of holding her arms above her shoulders, as in post play or when double-teaming in pressing tactics.
     e. A player is not required to maintain any specific distance from an opponent.
     f. Any player who conforms to the above is absolved from responsibility for any contact by an opponent which may dislodge or tend to dislodge such player from the position which she has attained and is maintaining legally. If contact occurs, the official must decide whether the contact is incidental or a foul has been committed. The following are the usual situations to which the foregoing principles apply:
     a. Guarding a player with the ball
     b. Guarding a player who is trying for a goal
     c. Switching to a player with the ball
     d. Guarding a dribbler
     e. Guarding a player without the ball
     f. Guarding a post player with or without the ball
     g. Guarding a rebounder

3. Screening
   When a player screens in front of or at the side of a stationary opponent, she may be as close as she desires providing she does not make contact. Her opponent can see her and, therefore, is expected to detour around the screen. If she screens behind a stationary opponent, the opponent must be able to take a normal step backward without contact. Because the opponent is not expected to see a screener behind her, the player screened is given latitude of movement. To screen a moving opponent, the player must stop soon enough to permit her opponent to stop or change direction. The distance between the player screening and her opponent will depend upon the speed at which the players are moving. If two opponents are moving in the same direction and path, the player who is behind is responsible for contact. The player in front may stop or slow her pace, but she may not move backward or sidewards into her opponent. The player in front may or may not have the ball. This situation assumes the two players have been moving in identically the same direction and path before contact.

4. The Dribble
   If the dribbler's path is blocked, she is expected to pass or shoot; that is, she should not try to dribble by an opponent unless there is a reasonable chance of getting by without contact.

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B. Field Goal Attempt

   A player is attempting a field goal when she has the ball and is (in the judgment of the official) in the act of shooting or trying to attempt to shoot. It is not essential that the ball leave the shooter's hand. Her arm(s) might be held so that she cannot actually make an attempt. She is thus deprived of an opportunity to score and is entitled to two free throw attempts. If a player is fouled when tapping a tossed ball or a rebound toward or into the basket, she is not considered to be "trying for goal." If a live ball is in flight when time expires, the goal, if made, shall count.

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C. Fouls: Flagrant-Unsportsmanlike

   To be unsportsmanlike is to act in a manner unbecoming to the image of professional basketball. It consists of acts of deceit, disrespect of officials and profanity. The penalty for such action is a technical foul. Repeated acts shall result in expulsion from the game. A flagrant foul-penalty
(1) is unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent. A flagrant foul-penalty
(2) is unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. It is an unsportsmanlike act and the offender is ejected immediately. The offender will be subject to a fine and/or suspension by the President. See Rule 12B-Section IV-b(1)-5 for interpretation and penalties.

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D. Charging-Blocking

   A defensive player shall not be permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once she has picked up the ball in an effort to either pass or shoot. If contact occurs on this play, and it is anything but negligible and/or incidental, a blocking foul shall be called on the defensive player. Any field goal attempt, if successful, shall count, as long as the ball has not been returned to the floor following the official's whistle. If a defensive player acquires a position directly under the basket/backboard on anything but a "baseline drive," she shall be responsible if contact occurs. An offensive foul should never be called under these conditions. The offensive player remains a shooter until she has regained a normal playing position on the floor. Many times this type of play is allowed to continue if the goal is successful.
   The opposite is also true. If an offensive player causes contact with a defensive player who has established a legal position prior to the offensive player having picked up the ball in an effort to either pass or shoot, and it is anything but negligible and/or incidental, an offensive foul shall be called, and no points may be scored. A defensive player may turn slightly to protect herself, but is never allowed to bend over and submarine an opponent.
   On a "drive-in" shot, if the defensive player has established a legal position in front of the basket/backboard, the offensive player shall be responsible for any illegal contact which occurs prior to her having regained her balance on the floor. An offensive foul shall be called and no points are to be awarded if the field goal is successful. The mere fact that contact occurs on these type of plays, or any other similar play, does not necessarily mean that a personal foul has been committed. The officials must decide whether the contact is negligible and/or incidental, judging each situation separately.
   In judging this play, the officials must be aware that if either player has been placed at a disadvantage by the contact which has occurred, then a personal foul must be called on the player responsible for that contact.

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E. Game Cancellation

   For the purpose of game cancellation, the officials' jurisdiction begins with the opening tipoff. Prior to this, it shall be the decision of the home team's management whether or not playing conditions are such to warrant postponement. However, once the game begins, if because of extremely hazardous playing conditions the question arises whether or not the game should be canceled, the crew chief shall see that every effort is made to continue the game before making the decision to terminate it.

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F. Physical Contact-Suspension

Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game. A fine and/or longer period of suspension will result if circumstances so dictate.

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G. Protest

   Protests are not permitted during the course of a game. In order to file a protest, a team must adhere to the following procedure:
(a) In order to protest against or appeal from the result of a game, notice thereof must be given to the President within forty-eight (48) hours after the conclusion of such game, by fax or e-mail, stating the grounds for protest. No protest may be filed in connection with any game played during the regular season after midnight of the day of the last game of the regular season schedule. A protest in connection with a playoff game must be filed not later than midnight of the day of the game protested. A game may be protested only by the NBA Governor or Alternate Governer of the Operator or the head coach. The right of protest shall inure not only to the immediately allegedly aggrieved contestants, but to any other team who can show an interest in the grounds of protest and the results that might be attained if the protest were allowed. Each fax or e-mail of protest shall be immediately confirmed by letter, and no protest shall be valid unless the letter of confirmation is accompanied by a check in the sum of $5000 payable to the WNBA. If the team filing the protest prevails, the $5000 is to be refunded. If the team does not prevail, the $5000 is to be forfeited and retained by the WNBA.
(b) Upon receipt of a protest, the President shall at once notify the opposing team in the game protested and require both of said teams within five (5) days to file with her such evidence as she may desire bearing upon the issue. The President shall decide the question raised within five (5) days after receipt of such evidence.

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H. Shattering Backboards

   Any player whose contact with the basket ring or backboard causes the backboard to shatter will be penalized in the following manner:
(1) Pre-game and/or Half-time warm-ups-No penalty to be assessed by officials.
(2) During the game-Non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul. Under no circumstances will that player be ejected from the game.
The President will review all actions and plays involved in the shattering of a backboard.

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I. Player/Team Conduct and Dress

(1) Each player when introduced, prior to the game, must be uniformly dressed.
(2) Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.
(3) Coaches and assistant coaches must wear business attire or other apparel as may be designated by the WNBA.
(4) While playing, players must keep their uniform shirts tucked into their shorts, and no T-shirts are allowed.
(5) The only article bearing a commercial logo which can be worn by players is their shoes, subject to WNBA rules.

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J. Offensive 3-Seconds

   The offensive player cannot be allowed in the 3-second lane for more than the allotted time. This causes the defensive player to "hand-check" because she cannot control the offensive player for that extended period of time. If the offensive player is in the 3-second lane for less than three seconds and receives the ball, she must make a move toward the hoop for the official to discontinue her three second count. If she attempts to back the defensive player down to secure a better position in relation to the basket, offensive three seconds or an offensive foul must be called. If she passes off and immediately makes a move out of the lane, there should be no whistle.

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K. Player Conduct-Spectators

   Any coach, player or trainer who deliberately enters the spectator stands during the game will be automatically ejected and the incident reported to the President. Entering the stands to keep a ball in play by a player or the momentum which carries the player into the stands is not considered deliberate. The first row of seats is considered the beginning of the stands.

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L. Punching, Fighting and Elbow Fouls

   Violent acts of any nature on the court will not be tolerated. Players involved in altercations will be ejected, fined and/or suspended. Officials have been instructed to eject a player who throws a punch, whether or not it connects, or an elbow which makes contact above shoulder level. If elbow contact is shoulder level or below, it shall be left to the discretion of the official as to whether the player is ejected. Even if a punch or an elbow goes undetected by the officials during the game, but is detected during a review of a videotape, that player will be penalized. There is absolutely no justification for fighting in a WNBA game. The fact that a player believes she was provoked by another player is not an acceptable excuse. If a player takes it upon herself to retaliate, she can expect to be subject to appropriate penalties.

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M. Expiration of Time

   No less than :00.3 must expire on the game clock when a ball is thrown inbounds and then hit instantly out-of-bounds. If less than :00.3 expires in such a situation, the timer will be instructed to deduct at least :00.3 from the game clock. If, in the judgment of the official, the play took longer than :00.3, he/she will instruct the timer to deduct more time. If less than :00.3 remain on the game clock when this situation occurs, the period is over.
   No less than :00.3 must expire on the game clock when a player secures possession of an inbounds pass and then attempts a field goal. If less than :00.3 expires in such a situation, the timer will be instructed to deduct at least :00.3 from the game clock. If less than :00.3 remain on the game clock when this situation occurs, the period is over, and the field goal attempt will be disallowed immediately whether successful or unsuccessful.
   This guideline shall apply to any field goal attempted by a player after she receives an inbounds pass, other than what will be called, for this purpose, a "tip-in" or "alley oop."
   A "tip-in" is defined as any action in which the ball is deflected, not controlled, by a player and then enters the basket ring. This type of action shall be deemed legal if :00.1 or more remains in a period.
   A "high lob" is defined as a pass which is received by an offensive player while in mid-air, and is followed instantaneously by a field goal attempt. If the reception of the pass and the subsequent "slam dunk" is immediately adjacent to the basket ring, this type of action shall be deemed legal if :00.1 or more remains in a period. However, if the "high lob" attempt is a distance from the basket ring whereby the ball must be controlled in mid-air, either one-handed or two-handed, a minimum of :00.3 is necessary for a field goal to score if successful.
   No less than :00.3 must expire on the game clock when a player secures possession of an unsuccessful free throw attempt and immediately requests a timeout. If less than :00.3 expires in such a circumstance, the time on the game clock shall be reduced by at least :00.3. Therefore, if :00.3 or less remain on the game clock when the above situation exists, and a player requests a timeout upon securing possession of the ball, the period is over. During any regular or 20-second timeout taken during the final minute of any period, the crew chief must meet with his/her fellow officials to discuss possible timing scenarios, fouls being taken if either team is under the penalty limit, number of timeouts, assistance by all officials on 3-point field goal attempts, rotation or away-from-the play foul.
   Regardless of when the horn or red light operates to signify the end of period, the officials will ultimately make the final decision whether to allow or disallow a successful field goal. The crew chief must take charge of the situation.

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N. Verbal Fan Interference

Any spectator who verbally abuses players and/or coaches in a manner which, in the opinion of the game officials, interferes with the ability of a coach to communicate with his/her players during the game and/or huddles, will, at the direction of the crew chief, be given one warning by a building security officer. If the same spectator continues to behave in a like manner, the crew chief shall direct a building security officer to eject the spectator from the arena.

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O. Guidelines for Infection Control

   If a player suffers a laceration or a wound where bleeding occurs, the officials shall suspend the game at the earliest appropriate time. Upon suspension of play, the head coach shall be informed that he/she has the option to, immediately, substitute for the player, call a regular timeout or a 20-second timeout. If a substitute replaces the player, the opposing team shall be allowed to substitute one player. The injured player may return to the game when she has received appropriate treatment by medical staff personnel.
   If the player returns to the game, the officials shall make certain that any lesion, wound or dermatitis is covered with a dressing that will prevent contamination to and/or from other sources. A wrist or sweat band is not considered a suitable bandage. If the injured player is awarded a free throw attempt(s) as a result of a personal foul, play shall be suspended as soon as the final attempt is successful or unsuccessful. If the player is involved in a jump ball, play shall be suspended as soon as possession is gained by either team. Caution shall be used when suspending play, so as not to halt a fast break situation. Mandatory timeouts shall not be granted at any time play is suspended. The offensive team may call a 20-second or regular timeout.
   If treatment is not completed within the allotted time, the head coach may call another timeout or substitute for the injured player. Substitutes are permitted consistent with existing rules on substitution.
   If a team has no timeouts remaining when play is suspended, the officials will allow 20 seconds for appropriate treatment. If the treatment is not completed in accordance with paragraph two above, the injured player must be removed immediately. Only the injured player may be removed from the game under these circumstances.
   No mandatory timeouts may be awarded if play is suspended for the defensive team. The offensive team will receive a full ten seconds to advance the ball into the frontcourt. The 30 second clock will remain as is or reset to 10, whichever is greater.

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P. Dead Ball, Live Ball, Ball is Alive

   After the ball has been dead, it is put into play by a jump ball, throw-in or a free throw attempt. The game clock does not start until the ball is legally touched on the court by a player. However, any floor violation or personal foul which may occur will be penalized. The ball is live when it is placed at the disposal of the thrower-in, free throw shooter or is tossed by the official on a jump ball. Illegal contact, which occurs prior to the ball becoming live, will be ignored if it is not unsportsmanlike. The ball is alive when it is legally tapped by one of the participants of a jump ball, released by a thrower-in or released on a free throw attempt.

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Q. Taunting

   If a player blatantly taunts an opponent, a technical foul shall be assessed. The opponent will not, automatically, be assessed a technical foul. Her behavior will be the determining factor. If a time delay occurs and the opponent returns the taunts, she shall also be assessed a technical foul. Each technical foul shall carry a separate penalty and free throws will be attempted.
   Simultaneous taunting is a verbal altercation. Verbal altercations and unsportsmanlike conduct will be administered as a double technical foul and no free throws will be attempted. Technical fouls assessed opponents during the same dead ball and prior to the administering of any free throw attempt for the first technical foul, shall be interpreted as a double technical foul. Exception: Free throws will be attempted if two technical fouls are assessed opponents
(1) for taunting, or
(2) when a coach, trainer and/or player is involved. A player(s) guilty of taunting must be penalized. If a previous unsportsmanlike act has been committed and if this situation is blatant, a technical foul must be assessed and the guilty player(s) must be ejected.

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