Air Check: The Reasoning Behind The Rule

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game, every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

aircheck-250Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

Air Check is where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

The new season means we’re back to keeping an ear out for the best and worst in NBA broadcasting. It also means we have a couple of new rules and points of emphasis that broadcasters need to explain to their viewers.

Misinformation in Houston

The biggest change that has affected play in the preseason and early regular season is the delay of game call when the scoring team touches the ball after a made basket. On the play above, Kemba Walker gets called for it and Houston announces try to explain it.

“The officials are trying to speed up the game by blowing the whistle,” Matt Bullard says, “and slowing the game down. Interesting.”

No, the rule isn’t about speeding up the game. It’s about the advantage the scoring team gains by preventing the opponent from getting the ball inbounds quickly.

What’s hilarious is that the Rockets, a team that likes to push the ball after made baskets, were one of the biggest proponents of the rule this summer. And their broadcaster is one of the people spreading misinformation about it.

Matt Harpring, voice of reason

If we’re going to call out Bullard for not understanding the intent of the rule, we should also give it up to Jazz broadcasters Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring for explaining the intent of the rule correctly.

Harpring: “You get a little second break there when you catch the ball after the ball goes in and throws it to the referee.”

Bolerjack: “It’s going to take a while.”

Harpring: “And now you have to break the habit of a lot of players.”

Bolerjack: “How long did you do it, you learn that early.”

Harpring: “Oh, I did it early, cuz I was tired, I’d hold it and make the referee say hey Matt, throw the ball back.”

Bolerjack: “What it allows you to do is take a couple steps down court before the opponent.”

Harpring: “Absolutely. So the opposing team can’t get the ball and fast break on you right away. It makes you run back on defense and sprint back and not rest.”

Where’d everybody go?

Switching gears, here’s Pistons broadcasters George Blaha and Greg Kelser having a little fun with the changes the Celtics made this summer.


  1. Ray says:

    Hahaa the Pistons announcers

  2. Dillon says:

    Eric Reid and Tony Fiorentino (heat broadasters) would never make mistakes like that

  3. bodjee says:

    I think this rule is introducing unwanted delay in the game, not the other way around. This rule could be better applied when the referee blows the whistle for an infraction and the player refuse to give the ball to his opponent, at times resulting in unneeded waste of time and aggravation.

  4. A.J. says:

    Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring are pathetic homer announcing shills, you’re going to swell their heads.

    There should be a rule, no positive comments about the local announcers out there. The vast majority are an absolute disgrace. When Cleveland fired Matt Guokas because he refused to shill, and then Orlando fired Matt Guokas because he refused to shill, that was the last straw.

  5. justsayin says:

    Author seems to think he’s a rules genius, but appears to be a sarcasm luddite.

    Does he think fast breaks *don’t* speed up the game? Or miss the irony that all these whistles do break up the pace for the viewers and will continue to do so, until the players get used to the rule and curtail their reflex?

    If anyone thinks the NBA has never made pro-offensive rules changes – reality is on the phone.

    • A.J. says:

      Huh? How do fast breaks “speed up the game?” It speeds up the pace, it doesn’t speed up the game. Newsflash: It doesn’t work like baseball. It’s still a 12-minute quarter, and coaches still take their timeouts at their usual times, and TV timeouts still occur at the usual times.

      Nice use of the word “luddite,” though. Your Roget’s Thesaurus came through in a pinch.