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Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately 9.4 inches (24 cm) in diameter) through the defender's hoop (a basket 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter mounted 10 feet (3.048 m) high to a backboard at each end of the court) while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

Players advance the ball by bouncing it while walking or running (dribbling) or by passing it to a teammate, both of which require considerable skill. On offense, players may use a variety of shots—the lay-up, the jump shot, or a dunk; on defense, they may steal the ball from a dribbler, intercept passes, or block shots; either offense or defense may collect a rebound, that is, a missed shot that bounces from rim or backboard. It is a violation to lift or drag one's pivot foot without dribbling the ball, to carry it, or to hold the ball with both hands then resume dribbling.

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Basketball keys.svg

The key, officially referred to as the free throw lane by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the restricted area by the international governing body FIBA, and colloquially as the lane or the paint, is an area in a basketball court underneath the basket bounded by the endlines, the foul lanes and other lines which are known as freebody lines, Usually painted (although unpainted on some courts with painted perimeters), it is a critical area on the court, where much of the action takes place in a game. The key, in all games, starting with FIBA's amendments to its rules in 2010 (to be first implemented after the 2010 FIBA World Championship), is rectangular. Prior to 2006, the key in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments (mostly basketball played outside the United States, and almost all international tournaments including the World Championships and the Olympics) was trapezoidal in shape. Both NBA and FIBA keys are 16 feet (4.9 m) wide, while NCAA keys are narrower at 12 feet (3.7 m). The most-commonly enforced rule on the key is the "three seconds rule" in which a player from the offensive team is prohibited from staying on the key for more than three seconds, or else the player's team will lose possession of the ball. Another rule enforced is the lane violation in which players from both teams are prohibited to enter the lane until after the free throw shooter releases the ball from his hands (the shooter is prohibited to enter the key until after the ball hits the rim). An innovation is the introduction of the restricted area arc directly underneath the basket where the defending player cannot force an offensive foul on the opposing player.

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Michael Jordan in 1987
Credit: Steve Lipofsky

Michael Jordan going in for a slam dunk with his signature exposed tongue.

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Bill Russell

Bill Russell (born 1934) is an American retired professional basketball player, widely considered one of the best in National Basketball Association (NBA) history. Playing center for the Boston Celtics, he was the centerpiece of their dynasty.

A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career, and jointly holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league. He also won a 1956 Olympics gold medal as captain of the U.S. national basketball team.

Russell's shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics's success. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game.

Russell was the first African American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA and the first African American NBA coach. For his accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement on and off the court, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Russell is a member of three basketball Halls of Fame (Naismith Memorial, National Collegiate, and FIBA) and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award is named in his honor.

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