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Kevin Durant’s Backcourt Violation Idiotically Overturned by Refs, Rules Show

Kevin Durant had a spectacular game for Oklahoma City Wednesday night helping the Thunder close out the Nuggets for their first playoff series victory in franchise history. Durant tied a playoff career-high with 41 points on 14-for-27 shooting and he closed with 16 points in the fourth quarter. But there was one moment where Durant made a mistake and the referees bailed him out.

The Thunder were inbounding the ball in the front court with about 15 seconds left and leading 98-97. Durant caught the ball in the front court, then his back foot stepped on the midcourt line (picture on the left), he took a dribble, and then he stepped on the line again (picture on the right). He was whistled for a backcourt violation but somehow the call was overturned.

Thanks to the bailout, the Thunder got the ball back and Durant hit a runner to make it 100-97 with 12 seconds left. Instead of shooting for the lead, the Nuggets were essentially forced into taking a three to tie — a much lower percentage shot.

Now just so you don’t think this is some hating on the refs by a Nuggets homer (I actually wanted OKC to win the series), here are the applicable rules from NBA.com that show the refs completely blew the call.

From Rule 4 Section VI:

b. A team’s backcourt consists of the entire midcourt line and the rest of the court to include the opponent’s basket and inbounds part of the backboard.

d. A ball being dribbled is (1) in the frontcourt when the ball and both feet of the player are in the frontcourt, (2) in the backcourt if the ball or either foot of the player is in the backcourt.

From Rule 8 Section III: “Any ball out-of-bounds in a team’s frontcourt or at the midcourt line cannot be passed into the backcourt. On all backcourt and midcourt violations, the ball shall be awarded to the opposing team at the midcourt line, and must be passed into the frontcourt.
EXCEPTION: During the last two minutes of the fourth period and/or any overtime period, the ball may be passed anywhere (frontcourt or backcourt) on the court.”

The above listed rule is the defense OKC fans have been using against the call. However, the picture below clearly shows that Durant had the ball in the front court before stepping on the midcourt line which would irrefutably trigger the backcourt violation:

Now matter how you view things, the refs initially made the right call but got it wrong when they reversed it. We can’t say Denver would have won the game, but they would have had a much better shot had they only been down one instead of three. It’s just another fortunate call for the Thunder, much like the Kendrick Perkins tip-in from Game 1.



Around The Web

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=699775980 Jake Macauley

    I’m glad someone is posting this. ESPN refuses to bring it up because the refs have already looked bad enough in this series. Yes Thunder played well this series, but two huge blown calls in Game 1 and 5 leave this entire series feeling tainted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Rhodes/100000116425407 Aaron Rhodes

    The team MAY throw the ball inbound into the back court, in order for a player to establish front court possession is (refer to YOUR rules) the ball and BOTH feet must establish, he caught the ball with one foot on the line(back court),dribbled and step on the line again with the same foot, thus never establishing front court for it to even be back court.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    The ball was inbounded from the front court … that established the front court.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.mcnutt Kevin McNutt

    You just proved you were wrong with your own explanation. As it states in Rule 4 Section IV BOTH feet must be in the frountcourt. Only one foot was in the frountcourt when he got the ball from the inbounds and he steps on the backcourt line with the same foot never establishing frountcourt according to the rule, therefore the overturn was the right call.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    The ball was inbounded from the front court. Are you missing that part?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Wells/68200020 Joshua Wells

    You’re missing the part where the ball can be inbounded anywhere, front court or back court, in the last two minutes of the game. Seriously, learn the rules.

    e. Any ball out-of-bounds in a team’s frontcourt or at the midcourt line cannot be passed into the backcourt. On all backcourt and midcourt violations, the ball shall be awarded to the opposing team at the midcourt line, and must be passed into the frontcourt.
    EXCEPTION: During the last two minutes of the fourth period and/or any overtime period, the ball may be passed anywhere (frontcourt or backcourt) on the court.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.mcnutt Kevin McNutt

    Wrong, inbound location has nothing to do with the establishing of front court

    Rule 8 Section III

    e. Any ball out-of-bounds in a team’s frontcourt or at the midcourt line cannot be passed into the backcourt. On all backcourt and midcourt violations, the ball shall be awarded to the opposing team at the midcourt line, and must be passed into the frontcourt.
    EXCEPTION: During the last two minutes of the fourth period and/or any overtime period, the ball may be passed anywhere (frontcourt or backcourt) on the court.

    Because the Game was in the last 2 minutes of the fourth period frountcourt was not established.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    That still doesn’t make any sense. There’s no such thing as frontcourt in the final two minutes of a game or overtime? It’s all one court the same? That makes no sense at all. I still say frontcourt was established by the inbounds, that simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.mcnutt Kevin McNutt

    no it is just that you can inbound the ball anywhere on the court during the last 2 minutes of the game so no backcourt violation on the inbounds (NBA Rule 8 Section III – e). Also frontcourt was never established because Durants’s left foot never stepped in the frontcourt and the rule clearly states that BOTH feet and the ball must be in the frontcourt (NBA Rule 4 Section III – d).

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Take a look at the picture just added and explain it.

  • Anonymous

    Passing from the front court does not establish it as front court untill he has posession in-bounds.
    He can pass it from the front court on the in-bounds to the back court. Durrant’s momentum was carrying him into the backcourt, thus it was as if he was passing it to him standing in the backcourt which is allowed.
    Wether it makes sense to you or not, I don’t think you understand the rules.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    The ball was inbounded from the frontcourt, into durant in the frontcourt, durant touched the midcourt line twice. Everything about the play was a backcourt violation. How can you not see that? Oh wait, you’re all thunder fans. And before you criticize me, why don’t you learn how to spell.

  • Anonymous

    No need to be rude

  • Anonymous

    If the refs don’t blow those two calls, in games 1 and 5, Nuggts are probably up 3 games to 2, or at worst down 3 to 2, but heading back home for game 6. This series is tainted, and Thunder are not deserving of a 4-1 series win, as Denver may even be the better team. I am a Celtics fan, so i could care less about the West, but this series was blown by the refs.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t say i understand the rules about backcourt too much, but i do know that if you catch the ball, regardless of place of inbounding or time left in the game, and are straddling the mid court line, you will get called for back-court violation. This is essentially what Durant is doing, as he has one foot in the front court and one foot in the back. And if you watched the game, they show him, even after the first controversial step, he dribbles once with both feet in the front-court, establishing front court. After this, his left foot hits the line again, which constitutes back court violation no matter how you look at it.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry for disrespecting you with the rules comment. The way I understand it and saw it was that he never had established posession in the front court. He was throwing it to him as he was moving into the backcourt. It doesn’t make a difference where it was thrown from. He is allowed to throw it into the backcourt in the last 2 minutes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OF76JI737WI5SO57XCJHDT45D4 Jude

    Man, that was a close call. From the video, it seemed as if Durant’s left foot barely crossed the line(therefore never establishing front court possession since his next step with his left foot was also on the line) but with the picture you just added, his left foot didn’t touch the line which made the refs initial call correct. I’m guessing the added picture was about .1 sec earlier than when Durant had his left foot on the line but that would’ve still been legal because the rules say that your momentum can carry you to backcourt without any violation. Tough call from the refs and I don’t blame them for not having the picture you just posted. Just live with it, I guess.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OF76JI737WI5SO57XCJHDT45D4 Jude

    Oh and Durant spun around without lifting his feet that is why his left foot ended up on the line. I don’t think there is a rule that prohibits that since he didn’t step on the line but it slid there.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WRSAQQWHAAL4B7NMKL6NUD2HVI brian

    Capitalizing proper nouns is another rule you don’t understand.

  • http://profiles.google.com/howell.dustin Dustin Howell

    Wow your a complete idiot. In the last 2 minutes of a game you are allowed to establish front court by taking the ball from the back court to the front court. REGARDLESS of where the ball is inbounded at. Looks like 9 years didn’t do much for you.

  • http://profiles.google.com/howell.dustin Dustin Howell

    How about before you criticize us you learn a little bit more about the rules of basketball.

  • http://profiles.google.com/howell.dustin Dustin Howell

    Game 1 was a blown call…game 5 was not. Legally he is allowed to step on or over the line while inbounding a ball.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dachawayne Charles Wayne Myrick

    The one game that Denver won, Kenyon Martin or Kenyan Martin or however in the hell you spell his name, had a blatant goaltending that was not called. The Thunder would have only been down by one with their last possession and could have easily “taken” a high percentage 2-pointer instead of the three that they missed at the end of the game. STOP COMPLAINING IF YOU DO NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT EVERY BLOWN CALL. IT WAS NOT JUST BAD CALLS FOR THE NUGGETS. LET IT GO PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Bobba_Ganoosh Bobba Ganoosh

    Agreed, a fair chance is all we can ask for

  • http://profiles.google.com/transamdude95 Steven Jones

    CLEAR BACKCOURT VIOLATION. Not on the first step on the line from the inbounds pass, but on the second step on the line (see above split picture, right side). He stepped on the line TWICE, the first time moving forward towards the basket, etablishing frontcourt and then stepped his left foot on the line again and whistle blew. Why doesn’t the NBA get with the times and review more plays via replay? It doesn’t make sense, unless you think the NBA is just a business and their business model wants Durant, Rose, LBJ, Wade, Kobe, etc to play as late as possible into the postseason. Pacers got some crap calls against them that really made a huge impact on the outcome of 3 of the 4 losses – example, how is Noah allowed to throw elbows underneath the basket at eye/neck-level and the refs eject McRoberts for defending himself? Maybe Tim Donaghy is telling the truth, huh? Too bad the NBA keeps blocking him from publishing.

  • http://profiles.google.com/transamdude95 Steven Jones

    You are right in that it can be thrown into the backcourt. The issue I see is that he left the backcourt and then stepped on the line again just before they blew the whistle. That is a backcourt violation. Nuggest wouldn’t have won the series, but I hate to see things like this happen when they can just take a 15-20 second peek at a tv screen RIGHT BEHIND WHERE THEY ARE STANDING. Just get it right, you know?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.mcnutt Kevin McNutt

    Can you be 100% sure that he touched the ball in that picture? I can have reasonable doubt that he did not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zachary-Christian-Foshee/794375295 Zachary Christian Foshee

    haha Larry Brown, who gave you a job?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zachary-Christian-Foshee/794375295 Zachary Christian Foshee

    learning the rule before you write an article about it would have been the intelligent thing to do.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/F2LB5DVVGDLURQQERBTQIEUNEU Derek Doublin

    At the end of Rule 8 Section III there is an EXCEPTION which states: “During the last two minutes of the fourth period and/or any overtime period, the ball may be passed anywhere (frontcourt or backcourt) on the court.”

    Frontcourt was never established because Durants’s left foot did not step in the front court while he had possession of the ball. The officials made the RIGHT CALL. The rule states that BOTH FEET INCLUDING THE BALL (not just ONE foot) must be in the frontcourt (NBA Rule 4 Section III – d).

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, I’m a Celtics fan. But the refs made the right call. Stop all this conspiracy theory B.S. and referee finger pointing. The NBA is already filled with players (aka ACTORS) that flip and flop and fake fouls with every nudge. Who’s to say faking contact and pretending to throw yourself on the ground isn’t cheating? It is! It’s just accepted! Just let it go and move on. Every NBA game is FILLED with calls that one side argues and the other praises. If anyone here thinks that a single referee call decides the game, they are fooling themselves. A call in the first quarter is just as detrimental to the outcome of the game as a call in the 4th. It’s basketball. That’s the way it is. Man up, and stop bitching.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    What’s your explanation for Durant having both feet in the front court when he catches it before stepping on the midcourt line?

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Frontcourt was established on the catch

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zachary-Christian-Foshee/794375295 Zachary Christian Foshee

    When did he have full possession is the key. Obviously its a judgment call and I will admit my bias as a fan but the rule also takes in account momentum. His momentum didn’t stop before the line with full possession. Either way I guess I just wish we could celebrate a win without the “refs screwed us” attack. I apologize for my other comment. Im sure your 100x the writer I am, its just kind of a weak argument for a pro “unbiased” writer to make.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zachary-Christian-Foshee/794375295 Zachary Christian Foshee

    ???? Am I wrong?

  • http://profiles.google.com/leicadfw leica dfw

    Jesus – I’m no huge fan of either team and I hate nba referees but what people are failing to mention is the referee blew his whistle when he FIRST stepped on the line – and BEFORE he stepped on it a second time. To say it is an idiotic overturn is false. Once the ref blows his whistle anything that happens after that is mute. SO – the lesson is – the overturn was correct as it was based only on the first time he stepped on the line. Come on guys…this is elementary.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I think you mean moot, but I’m pretty sure I heard the whistle blown after the second step. Regardless, the picture shows he caught the ball in the frontcourt. The issue is it appears like he caught the ball with his foot on the line.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    OKC was the better team and deserved to win the game, that hasn’t been in doubt.

  • http://profiles.google.com/leicadfw leica dfw

    No, this video clearly shows the referee blows the whistle BEFORE the second step – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiS-I1xiL08&feature=channel_video_title
    Because you posted a picture of him stepping on the line a second time and stating “Durant caught the ball in the front court, then his back foot stepped on the midcourt line (picture on the left)…” – you are implying, whether you see it or not – that if he had established front court the first time OR not – stepping on the line a second time would be considered a back court violation. For example – if he didn’t step on the line the first time and he did the second time – this would still be up for debate. The point I am making is the second step-on-the-line is not up for debate – therefore there should be no picture on your site OR a statement stating “then his back foot stepped…” – because ANYTHING that happens after the whistle doesn’t matter.
    No matter…You have also posted a pic where you state “clearly shows that Durant had the ball”. Really? What’s so clear about this pic? I see about 2 percent of the actual ball, and to top it off his entire left arm is hanging down. He must have done a pretty good job of catching the ball with one hand. He clearly DOES NOT have possession of the ball. Again, I don’t care to get into a debate, and I am usually against the refs but why post a pic stating he clearly had the ball? that’s nonsense son.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zachary-Christian-Foshee/794375295 Zachary Christian Foshee

    lol Larry I would just move on to your next article bro

  • Anonymous

    nm

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NZYUKZI6BFWMBTYYMVIWZUCAHM rejoice
  • http://www.facebook.com/reconstructo Francesco Joseph Longo III

    I wouldn’t say from that picture you offered that possession has been established by the player. It also seems strange that most teams don’t have the line down the middle unbroken, how can you have a logo on the middle of the court if it’s blocking a line the refs need? Strange.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zaxx81 Zachary Fair

    As you stated he caught the ball with his left foot on the line. Then he pivoted on his right foot. Then he stepped on the line with his left foot again. According to the rules, since he never stepped in the front court with both feet (line doesn’t count as front court), he never established himself in the frontcourt.

    Basically you could dribble down the mid-court line with one foot on each side and still be considered in the backcourt.

    Source(s):

    NBA Rules (http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_4.html)
    Section VI-Frontcourt/Backcourt
    d. A ball being dribbled is (1) in the frontcourt when the ball and both feet of the player are in the frontcourt, (2) in the backcourt if the ball or either foot of the player is in the backcourt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reconstructo Francesco Joseph Longo III

    He’s saying that possession was established in the front court before moving into the back court, THAT isn’t allowed. You’re simply allowed to be standing on one of the sidelines of the front court and inbound to someone standing in the back court. The over and back rule is still in effect.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zaxx81 Zachary Fair

    Durant’s left foot was on the line when he gained positive possession of the pass, his right foot was in the frontcourt, he pivoted on his right foot with his left foot in the air, then his left foot steped on the line again.

    Basically, you are not in the frontcourt, if you are dribbling, until both feet are established in the front court. Since his left foot was never completely established in the frontcourt (touching the line is considered backcourt), he can keep stepping in the backcourt or on the line.

    Source(s):

    NBA Rules (http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_4.html)
    Section VI-Frontcourt/Backcourt
    d. A ball being dribbled is (1) in the frontcourt when the ball and both feet of the player are in the frontcourt, (2) in the backcourt if the ball or either foot of the player is in the backcourt.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zaxx81 Zachary Fair

    Mr. Brown, the arguement here is that your picture does not show if Durant established, according to the rulebook, “Positive Position”. I understand your arguement, however, that picutre does not show clearly if he has completely caught the ball yet. Touching the ball with both hands does not constitute “possitive position”, having control of the ball does.

    I am a Thunder fan, however, I will have to point out those of you that are calling out Mr. Brown on not knowing the rules, need to review the rules as well. The case that his momentum can carry him is also incorrect. Momentum can carry him into the backcourt without a violation, but only if he caught the pass in the air.

    My personal opinion is that when Duran established “positive position” of the inbound pass, his left foot was on the line, so he is legally in the backcourt. He then pivoted on his right foot and touched the line again with his left foot. Both feet and the ball were never established in the frontcourt, so again he was legally still in the backcourt.

  • http://profiles.google.com/whistlingseed The Editor

    So basically, there’s nothing true about this post. Got it.

    http://www.nba.com/video/channels/originals/2011/04/28/durant_halfcourtline.nba/