I was at a game, where 10 seconds were remaining, player A had the ball and player B of the opposite team started yelling the countdown (3,2,1...). Player A shot from half court over the board and the referee called the play out of bounds.

So, can a player shout falsely the remaining time of the shooting clock to distract and trick their opponent?

  • When I was younger you had some teams (in the youth divisions) that started shouting the wrong time from the bench. I don't think it was allowed but it was somehow tolerated by the refs.
    – marijnr
    Jul 31, 2018 at 6:11
  • Is this question asking with regards to official rulesets, and if so, which ruleset? Jul 31, 2018 at 6:43
  • Not a duplicate but very much related: Is shouting a foul in basketball?
    – gdrt
    Jul 31, 2018 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


In the NBA, there is a concept called "elastic power," which says:

The officials shall have the power to make decisions on any point not specifically covered in the rules.

Thus, if "sportsmanship" is an issue and this form of distraction is not specifically covered in the rules, the referee may use elastic power to address the circumstance.

  • Any examples of this ever being enforced at any level where games are on TV? I understand the answer but this is the issue with sites like this - documenting is voted up while the documentation may have no weight or be real. Can a player count wrong at the end of the game? Sure he can. Will never get called.
    – Coach-D
    Aug 3, 2018 at 17:58

There may be sportsmanship rules in lower age leagues but there is no basketball rule against this. This would be very very very hard for a referee to call. They would need to figure out the intent of the player and decipher that. Really outside of the realm of a referee's job. So not only is there no rule but there is no way a referee could really call something if there was a "sportsmanship" rule.

  • 1
    But there is a "sportsmanship rule". Quoting the FIBA rules; "36.1.2. Each team shall do its best to secure victory, but this must be done in the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play. 36.1.3. Any deliberate or repeated non-cooperation or non-compliance with the spirit and intent of this rule shall be considered as a technical foul."
    – Philip Kendall
    Jul 31, 2018 at 8:46
  • @PhilipKendall - ok that is a great quote. This situation happens all the time. And it is never called because unless something is blatantly egregious a ref wouldn't T up a player to decide a game. And how would a referee know if they player was counting on purpose bad or just dumb? My answer stands - this would never be called. The only situation this would be called is if a ref warned a team about doing something and this could be pregame or during the game. There is a difference between rules pulled out of books and rules enforced. (what is the rule on hand checking?)
    – Coach-D
    Jul 31, 2018 at 18:29

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