Many NBA fans are questioning the FIBA 3-point line distance, which is closer than the NBA 3-point line. This is a short refresher on the rules.
NBA fans must have felt pleasant surprise at the huge contrast in the flow of the game between FIBA and NBA basketball. The FIBA rules seem more in touch with what fans want to watch. There are fewer timeouts, the game is shorter and the court dimensions are shorter.
But none of this has affected the quality of play as tons of NBA players now play in different Olympics nations. We’re seeing perhaps the most even spread of talent in international basketball ever.
In light of the amazing quality of basketball on display at Tokyo, we felt it prudent to explain NBA fans some of the differences in rules between the NBA and the rest of the world.
FIBA 3-point line distance
The following is a short summary of how far the 3-point arcs are in various levels of competitive basketball –
NBA: Arc radius 23 feet 9 inches (7.24 m), no less than 3 feet (0.91 m) from each sideline
WNBA: Arc radius 22 feet 1.75 inches (6.7501 m), no less than 3 feet 4 inches (1.02 m) from each sideline
FIBA: Arc radius 6.75 meters (22.1 ft), no less than 0.9 meters (3.0 ft) from each sideline
NCAA: Arc radius 20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m), no less than 4 feet 3 inches (1.30 m) from each sideline
American High school basketball: Arc radius 19 feet 9 inches (6.02 m), no less than 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) from each sideline
Why is the 3-point line more distant in the NBA than in international basketball?
The NBA has always prided itself in being a tougher brand of the sport than with regulation FIBA-sanctioned rules. As a result, the league has always bucked the trend – especially in terms of the 3-point arc distance and court size.
The American Basketball League (ABL) was the first competitive tournament in professional basketball to adopt a 3-point line. They did so in 1961 in an experimental fashion. Although the league shut down in less than 2 seasons, the 3-point line was an instant success with fans.
As a result, the ABA adopted this arc when the league was established in 1967. The improved spacing and emphasis on perimeter play made the ABA format more popular with fans than the NBA.
The ABA folded in 1976, but they gave the basketball world an idea that was long-lasting. International basketball leagues also began adopting a 3-point arc in the 80s, with a standardized distance of 6.75m from the hoop.
The NBA wished to differentiate itself as by far the best league in basketball. So they kept the 3-point line further behind, as described in the paragraph above.
David Stern approved the shortening of the 3-point line in the mid-90s for a couple of seasons. This resulted in a 3-point explosion – Michael Jordan himself shot above 40% from deep with a shortened line. The line was brought back to 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of the key in 1997.