I was watching a review of the longest shot in NBA history and was reminded of this pretty incredible bucket:


This video is of the 2015 Boston Celtics attempting an inbounds play against the Indiana Pacers from the opposite baseline with only 1.1 seconds left. The play is to heave the ball across the entire court towards the basket, but it actually goes in the basket instead.

Of course, that shot doesn't actually count. The player, Jae Crowder, is out of bounds on the opposite baseline and you can't score from out of bounds. His intent is to actually pass it to a teammate so they can attempt a shot within the last second+ of time in the half.

But this leads me to my question: this heave has no chance of scoring even if it goes through the basket. Can a player, preferably a player from the team on offense, simply touch the ball, or just straight up catch and dunk the ball despite the fact that it's clearly heading down towards the basket and would otherwise be a goaltending violation if it were a "normal" shot?

2 Answers 2


I can't find anything in the rules that would indicate this to be a violation. So absent other evidence, this should be a legal play.

Section 8 of the NBA Rulebook governs the throw-in. As long as the throw-in directly touches a player in the game, it is legal and should not be penalized.

Section 11 covers basket interference. Except for what appear to be some editing issues, the prohibitions on touching the ball before it reaches the basket area are limited to balls that "have a chance to score". Since the throw-in does not fit this condition, there can be no basket interference.


No. You can't goaltend a shot that won't count. For example, if the clock runs out and THEN, someone shoots (after the buzzer) and a player on the opposing team hits the ball off of the rim of the hoop (or 'goaltend's' in some other way) the points are still invalid.

  • Sure, and I understand this. But the context in the body of my question is different. What you're describing is a situation that won't matter at all. Kevin Garnett, for example, would regularly jump up and pluck shots out of the air that occurred after whistles. My question is focused on a situation where a shot could count, but would require a player to commit an action that would otherwise be a violation in a different, more normal situation.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 15:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.