2016 Olympic spotlight: Basketball


If Goliath had been born in the modern age he would quickly have drafted by the NBA. Basketball numbers the worlds tallest athletes in its ranks and modern giants have been attracted to the sport by the lavish paychecks that come with the territory.


Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Magic Johnson and Lebron James are all household names in the states where basketball has its largest fan base. The IOC’s allowance for pro players to compete in the Olympics from 1992 created the perfect storm for US dominance in the Olympic competition. Huge resources combined with a huge talent pool has led to an easily conceivable outcome at the games: The USA has won every single basketball medal since 1992 save for a bronze medal placement at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Their victories are usually easily attained and overly dominant.


Basketball is played on a 28 x 15 metre rectangular court with poles erected midway through the shorter vertex at each long end of the court. The poles hold baskets 3.05 metres off the ground. The aim of the game is to score by throwing a ball through these baskets. A successful goal gains a team 2 points or 3 points if a shot is taken from beyond the three point arc – roughly 6.75 metres from the basket.


A basketball team consist of 5 players all of whom have a specialized function on the court, to wit:


  • Player 1 – The Point Guard is the player chosen for his speed; his manoeuvrability and offensive capability are coupled with pinpoint decision making in order to the ball to the correct player at the correct time.
  • Player 2 – The Shooting Guard creates pressure by peppering the opposing team with basket shots while aiming to shut down the oppositions most effective athlete.
  • Player 3 – The Small Forward aims to penetrate the enemies defense through rapid movement and steeling balls off dribbles and rebounds.
  • Player 4 – The Power Forward is most offensive player in the game and when defends either waits under the basket in to intercept a ball or shuts down the intention of the opposing power forward.
  • Player 5 – The Centre is a mixed bag player that leverages his size to score in offensive and to protect the basket in defense.

Players can move with the ball as long as they maintain a dribble ie bouncing the ball on the floor using one hand; as soon they grab the ball in both hands they determining a pivot foot which remains rooted to the ground. Limited mobility is provided by moving their other foot. If a ball is passed to another player, the receiver must immediately begin dribbling the ball.


Basketball will be contested at the Rio 2016 Olympics but don’t hold your breath – The Americans are the favourites to win yet again and if history is anything to go by then their victory is undoubtedly assured.


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Basketball Lebron