The NBA has been around for over seven decades. However as time passed by, the game also evolved. While some players have become dominant, their dominance did not contribute well to the growth of the game. Thus, this forced league officials to make rule changes in order to keep the game interesting. For this piece, let’s take a look at 10 NBA players who forced the league to make rule changes.
Due to his towering dominance, the NBA made several rule changes for George Mikan. For one, there was The Mikan rule which extended NBA lanes from six to 12 feet in order to make Mikan move more.
Aside from that, Mikan was also responsible for rules concerning goaltending. Furthermore, he was also one of the figures that paved the way for the 24-second shot clock rule.
Barkley was a menace in the shaded area despite being undersized. To alleviate the lack of size, Barkley often backed down bigger defenders for a lengthy amount of time before attempting a shot. In order to quicken the pace of the game, the league responded by imposing the five second rule or the “Booty rule”.
Aside from Barkley, Mark Jackson was also affected by this rule.
If anyone can remember, Paul George suffered a freak injury in a Team USA scrimmage while building up for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Fortunately, PG has successfully recovered from the broken leg and pieced together a successful comeback story.
In order to prevent this from happening in the NBA stage, the league mandated extra space for both sides of the basketball stanchion.
While buzzer beaters are often celebrated, this one sparked controversy. Tucker nailed a game-winning shot at the buzzer with only 0.1 remaining. To the anger of Bulls coach Phil Jackson, the shot shouldn’t have counted with the time given.
Le 15/01/1990, Trent Tucker, nicknamed «Doc», anesthésie les Bulls d’un tir derrière l’arc avec seulement 0,1 seconde restante à l’horloge. The MSG is in fusion.
Since the rule has changed. 3 dixièmes sont considered comme nécessaires pour armer un shoot. pic.twitter.com/X8hpKCzofz
— Vincent Reculeau “Baby TER” (@WonderfulOhYeah) December 20, 2022
In response to the incident, the Trent Tucker Rule was made. The rule limited teams to only make a shot via alley-oop or tip in if the clock is less than 0.3 seconds.
figuratively, playoff rondo is also “upside down headband” rondo pic.twitter.com/3cLZMHYHf0
— wwword (@wwword) April 18, 2018
While it doesn’t really affect the NBA play, this fashion statement has Rajon Rondo written all over it. Rondo made waves during the peak of his career as an all-around guard while sporting an NBA headband worn upside down.
Rondo would eventually put a stop to this habit after the league disallowed this fashion sense.
San Antonio Spurs favorite Bruce Bowen was the first to draw the NBA’s attention on dangerous shot contests, but it was former Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia that forced the league to strictly enforce this with a more firm rule change. Pachulia was caught in the landing space of Spurs Kawhi Leonard while attempting a jump shot. This led to Leonard’s injury that played a major role in the Spurs’ 4-0 series defeat at the hands of the Warriors.
There’s no convincing me Zaza Pachulia wasn’t trying to injure Kawhi Leonard. Dirty play. pic.twitter.com/O2vn3SSfKd
— Dan Molloy (@DanMolloyTV) May 14, 2017
After the incident, the league implemented a ZaZa rule which now allows referees to penalize reckless defenders with technicals and flagrants. This helps protect the shooter from injury.
On the side note, Pachulia also played a major role in the NBA’s All-Star voting change. Given his popularity in Georgia, Pachulia would have been an All-Star starter in the festivities using the previous format despite riding the bench during the regular season.
Shaq was one of the most dominant centers to ever play in the NBA. Teams had no one who could match up with the four time NBA champion. Because of Shaq’s dominance, the league allowed teams to employ a zone defense to limit his dominance in the shaded area.
While Shaq’s dominance forced the NBA to make a rule change, his weakness also demanded one as well. Shaq dreaded making free throws and only made 52.7% at the stripe. As a result, opposing teams developed the Hack-a-Shaq tactic to offset his dominance. In response to this, the league made a rule change that will reward the fouled team a free throw and possession of the ball.
When it comes to scoring, James Harden has turned heads in the league. Although his eurosteps and stepbacks have raised eyebrows, it’s his ability to draw fouls that catches everyone’s attention. Before the rule change, Harden was averaging over 10 free throw attempts per game.
To limit Harden’s free throw trips, the league enforced the James Harden rule. This prevents players from intentionally drawing fouls with non-basketball moves.
Shooting is Reggie Miller’s specialty. Given his competitive nature, he would do anything at his disposal to win. Although he was already happily retired, the league enforced a rule that gave tribute to the former Pacers star which was known as the Reggie Miller Rule.
The rule prohibits jump shooters from extending any of their legs in order to draw contact. This allows referees to penalize the shooter with an offensive foul for trying to initiate contact. Fortunately for Miller, he was already done building his legacy.
If there’s a player who completely dominated the league (and forced the NBA to make early rule changes) it was Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain remains the only player in NBA history to score 100 points which speaks for itself. Paired with great size and skill, Chamberlain’s dominance had to be contained by the league in order to keep the game interesting and to alleviate the size and skill difference between him and his competitors.
Chamberlain forced the league to implement rules that prevented offensive goaltending and inbounding over the backboard. Furthermore, he also affected free throw regulations and forced the league to widen its lanes.
In other words, Chamberlain was in a class of his own.