Illegal Defense

Illegal Defense:
A rather nebulous NBA rule that was called irregularly. It's designed to prevent the use of the zone defense, today legal in the NBA, it was more like a 3-second violation for the defense, in which no defender can stay in the lane for more than 3 seconds. If you were on defense and were not aggressively guarding someone, you could not spend more than 3 seconds in the key at a time.
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Spanish ~ Español - defensa ilegal


093012 ~ The illegal defense guidelines

The term illegal defense has replaced zone defense in NBA usage. The rule now in place, supported by guidelines, defines approved coverage by defensive players and teams. Violations of these rules and guidelines will be noted as Illegal Defense.

a. Illegal defenses which violate the rules and accepted guidelines set forth are not permitted in the NBA.
b. When the offensive team is in its backcourt with the ball, no illegal defense violation may occur.

The illegal defense guidelines needed to be eliminated because they have become problematic. They are problematic for our fans, who don't understand the rule. They are problematic for the officials, who admittedly have had difficulty administering the rule. And finally, the teams have used the guidelines in a way that produces isolation basketball. Teams identify areas on the floor that they can use to their advantage in a given offensive matchup and this produces a real sameness of play amongst a lot of the teams.

With isolation basketball  (external link), a lot of NBA teams began standing around. There is little player movement, there is little ball movement, and there is a decreasing amount of fast break opportunities. These developments began with the misuse of the illegal defense guidelines and therefore they needed to be eliminated. By eliminating them, the desired result is to get a game that once again is based on passing, cutting, player movement, and ball movement. A game that hopefully produces fast break opportunities because that is the way our game should be played.

A defensive three-second violation that would prohibit a player on defense from being in the lane for more than three seconds, except when the player is defending an opponent in the lane area: When the illegal defense guidelines were eliminated, the number one concern was that teams would take a bigger player, like a Shaquille O'Neal, Theo Ratliff, Shawn Bradley, or Dikembe Mutombo, and simply put him in the middle of the lane to camp out and prohibit drives to the basket and encourage low-percentage shots.

In an effort to help alleviate that concern, the defensive three-seconds violation was recommended. Prohibiting a player from being in the lane for longer than three seconds will hopefully prevent a player from simply camping in the lane for the entire possession.
George Diamantidis

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