Sports 101

What's ahead: The National Basketball Association All-Star game will air on NBC Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. EST from Madison Square Garden in New York.


How are players picked for this event?

The starters for the 48th annual NBA All-Star game were chosen by fans who participated in McDonald's All-Star balloting program from Nov. 14 to Jan. 15, in all 29 NBA arenas, on, and in McDonald's restaurants.

How are the rosters filled?

After fan voting is complete and the starters are announced, all the head coaches in each conference are polled to determine the remaining All-Stars for their respective conferences. Coaches are not allowed to vote for players on their own team, however.


What is a free throw and when is it awarded?

A free throw is an uncontested shot (15 feet from the basket), awarded to the fouled player when an opponent has committed a personal or technical foul. In the NBA, two free throws are awarded.

What is the difference between a personal and technical foul?

A technical foul is the penalty for a violation of conduct, such as abusive language or fighting. Each technical foul awards a free throw to the opposing team and also means an automatic fine for the player who commits the violation. A personal foul is illegal contact between two players.

What is an alley-oop pass?

A pass thrown to a player who is running toward the basket. The second player then leaps, catches the ball in midair, and dunks it or lays it in before he lands.

What is a three-second violation?

An offensive player may not stand in the lane (the painted area between the end line and the free-throw line near each basket) for more than three seconds at a time. This prevents players from planting themselves under the basket.

What is a 'fast break'?

An offensive strategy in which a team breaks rapidly toward its basket (the front court) immediately after gaining possession of the ball in order to constantly pressure the opponents and deny them the time to organize their defense.

Apart from gender, what are the differences between the WNBA and NBA?

Ball circumference:

WNBA: 28.5 in.

NBA: 30 in.

Number of teams:


NBA: 29

Average player height:

WNBA: 5 ft., 11-1/2 in.

NBA: 6 ft., 7 in.

Game time

WNBA: Two 20-minute halves.

NBA: Four 12-minute quarters.

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