Time-Out When Falling Out-of-Bounds? Not Anymore

June 27, 1997

An NBA phenomenon was snuffed out yesterday. It began three years ago when Jason Kidd, falling out of bounds, decided to call a timeout. Time was granted and, soon after, the leaping, on-your-way-out-of-bounds timeout became as popular as tattoos.

No more. Yesterday, the NBA's Board of Governors approved four rules changes for the 1997-98 season. One of them was the timeout clarification: a timeout cannot be called by a player if both his feet are in the air or if any part of his body has broken the imaginary plane of the baseline/sideline. (Question: what's to stop a player from calling time when he sees a teammate falling out of bounds with the ball?).

The governors also returned the 3-point line to its original home - 23 feet 9 inches from the basket. It had been 22 feet the last three years and will remain at 22 in the corners this season. Because of the change, you will see fewer marginal shooters venturing to the arc. You will also see offenses spread out and more maneuverability in the paint.

Defenders also will not be allowed to use their forearms to stop an offensive player who is facing the basket in the frontcourt and the "no charge" area near the basket has been expanded.

One man who should be happy is Rick Pitino. The president and coach of the Celtics would like to have a team that has 90-plus possessions rather than the high 70s-low 80s league average.

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