I recall about zone defense and travelling being major differences but I'm sure there are more small differences.
There are a lot more differences than I will state, but these are the major differences between NBA and FIBA Basketball Game Rules:
- Game time (40 min vs 48 min)
- player is disqualified after 5 fouls at FIBA vs 6 at NBA
- three-point distance (23 feet and 9 inches away from the backboard vs 22 ft 2 in)
In the NBA, there are two types of time-outs: 100 (60)-second ones and 20-second ones. Each team is allowed to benefit from up to six time-outs during regulation play (four quarters), but no more than three in the fourth period. They are allowed one 20-second time-out in every half and one in each overtime. The timeout can be requested by a head coach or by a player in control of the ball. If neither of the teams requests any timeouts during a period, the game officials have to call a number of mandatory timeouts, mainly for commercial reasons.
In FIBA regulations, teams are allowed to benefit from two time-outs in the first half, three in the second half, and one in each overtime. Every time-out is one minute long, except for occasional TV time-outs, which may or may not be included by the organizer of the game. If the organizer wishes, they may include one TV time-out per quarter (none in overtimes), with a length of 60 to 100 seconds, but this is in no way mandatory. In fact, these are rarely applied. Regular (non-commercial) time-outs may only be requested by coaches (not by players) and may only be granted when the ball is dead.
It is not only the strict letter of regulations that referees have to consider when officiating. There is also the so-called ‘spirit of the game’, which allows referees and officials to give different meanings to rules in cases which are not completely specified in the regulation. This too, is different. The best example for this is when they will not call a traveling violation against a player on a fast break, even though he has taken three steps without dribbling, on lay-up; but they will allow him to go on ahead and score his goal if no defender has any chance of reaching him, in order to make the game dynamic and entertaining. This will often happen in the NBA but not in FIBA-officiated games.
Needless to say, the differences are much more detailed and would take hundreds of pages to be explained thoroughly. But it is interesting to think about NBA players who are used to their home rules, having to play in FIBA-governed championships. And, vice versa, even though that is much rarer.
Read more at Differences between NBA and FIBA Basketball Game Rules - http://suite101.com/article/differences-between-nba-and-fiba-basketball-game-rules-a356156
FIBA has a summary of rule differences on its homepage. While not always complete to the last detail, this is a good starting point.
- FIBA: 4x10 minutes, 5 minutes over-time
- NBA: 4x12 minutes, 5 minutes over-time
- FIBA: 6.75m (6.60m on baseline)
- NBA: 7.24m (6.70m on baseline)
- FIBA: 2 in first half, 3 in second half (but only 2 in last two minutes of the 4th period), 1 per OT period. Always 60 seconds. Never carried over.
- NBA: 6 regular, 2 per OT period = 60 or 100 seconds + 1 short time-out (20 seconds) per half. The second short time-out can be carried over to OT period + additional regulations (e.g. mandatory time-outs).
Jump ball and alternating possession
FIBA: Jump ball to start the game. The one losing initial jump ball gets possession for the next jump ball situation. Alternating possession between teams thereafter for all jump ball situations.
NBA: Jump ball to start the game. The one losing initial jump ball gets possession to start 2nd and 4th quarters. The one winning initial jump ball gets possession to start the 3rd quarter. All other jump ball situations played as "real jump ball".
- FIBA: Foul out on 5 (personal and technical)
- NBA: Foul out on 6 or 2 technical
Team fouls and bonus free-throws
FIBA: 2 free-throws awarded for each (non-shooting) foul after the 4th period (includes player technical fouls). Does not include offensive fouls/fouls by the team in possession.
NBA: 2 free-throws awarded for each foul after the 4th team foul or last two minutes of each quarter, whichever comes first. Does not include offensive fouls and technical fouls.
Technical foul (penalty)
- FIBA: 1 free throw and possession of the ball at the centre
- NBA: 1 free throw per technical foul; play resumes at the point of interruption; foul is charged to the individual in question (and automatic fine assessed).
FIBA: No blocking a ball in downward flight towards the rim. Once the ball strikes the rim, any player can play the ball (i.e. swat it away or tap it in).
NBA: No blocking a ball in downward flight towards the rim. An imaginary cylinder exists that has the basket as its base. Touching the ball while any part of it is in this cylinder (and still has a chance to go in) is a violation.
- FIBA: Legal
- NBA: Legal but defensive player may not stay in the lane (a.k.a. key, restricted area) for longer than three seconds if he is not actively guarding an opponent.
- FIBA: 00, 0, 1-99
- NBA: Any one or two digit number
There used to be more differences (the shape of the restricted area, the definition of the pivot foot/travelling rules, 30 vs. 24-second shot clock etc.) In general, many of FIBA's latest rule changes come as a "concession" to the NBA in order to further unify basketball rules.
I'll try to make a list of all the differences between FIBA and NBA:
- FIBA games last 40 minutes while NBA last 48.
- NBA players have 1 more personal foul to give.
- In FIBA games you can stay in the 3-seconds area as long as you want while you're on defense.
- Different numbers of available timeouts.
- You can pass the ball to a player in the defensive half during a throw in in the NBA, while you can't do this in FIBA games.
- While the ball is on the rim you can't touch it in the NBA; it is a bit different in FIBA games.
- In FIBA games, traveling does exist :D
I can't remember other differences right now, but I think it's almost everything:)