Take a look back at some of the rules changes that have taken place over the years.
(Changes/clarifications implemented prior to season, except where noted) Initial Rules
• 60-game schedule followed by championship playoffs involving the top three teams in each division.
• Games are 48 minutes long.
• Players are allowed six personal fouls.
• Every time you scored, the other team is given possession of the ball.
• Zone defenses are allowed.

1946-47
• Zone defenses outlawed on January 11, 1947.

1947-48
• Player fouls allowed per game increased from five to six.

1950-51
• After a free throw is made in the last three minutes, there is a jump ball (between the player who committed the foul and the player fouled) instead of possession for the team that committed the foul.  To eliminate deliberate fouling and roughness

1951-52
• Lane widened from six to 12 feet
Change primarily attributed to the dominance of George Mikan
 
1952-53
• The late-game free-throw rule (see 1950-51) now required the jump ball to take place between the man who is fouled and the player who is guarding him.
To eliminate the advantages of having a tall-man foul a short-man.
1953-54
• Players limited to two fouls per quarter and if a third foul is committed; the player has to sit out the remainder of that quarter.
The rule is rescinded when it fails to prevent late game fouling.
1954-55
• The 24-second shot clock is introduced.
• A penalty free throw is awarded following a team’s sixth foul in any quarter.

Both rules had to be adopted to make each one work. The time limit made in unnecessary for the trailing team to foul deliberately, since it would get the ball after 24 seconds. The foul limit made it too costly to foul to prevent a chance at a basket.
• The penalty for a backcourt foul became two shots – three to make two if you are over the limit.
• Offensive fouls are treated as violations, no free throws and the defensive team gets possession. The foul would still count towards a player’s limit of six personal fouls.
1964-65
• Lane widened from 12 to 16 feet
Change primarily attributed to the dominance of Wilt Chamberlain


 
1966-67
• The team foul limit is reduced to five per quarter. In the last two minutes of any period, a team is allowed only one foul before the penalty, even if it hadn’t used up its allotment.
• The following language was added to the Zone Defense Rule: "After the offensive team has advanced the ball to its front court, a defensive player may not station himself in the key area longer than three seconds if it is apparent he is making no effort to play an opponent. The three second count starts when the offensive team is in clear control in the front court."
1972-73
• No foul shots are attempted, other than shooting fouls, until the fifth team foul of any period.
• Other than the shooter, players are no longer restricted from entering the lane on free throws attempts.
• Teams have 30 seconds to replace a disqualified player.
• Errors in the fourth period and overtime must be discovered before the end of the period to be corrected.
1974-75
• Fine increased from $50 to $100 for a player or coach ejected after being charged with a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct.
• A timeout request made at the instant time expires for a period shall not be granted and the period ends.
• In the last two minutes of the game or overtime, no timeouts are allowed once the ball is inbounded until the ball is in the frontcourt.
• The “force out” rule is clarified as incidental contact near a boundary line, which causes a player to commit a violation or go out of bounds, and neither team is responsible for the action. The offensive team retains possession.
• When there are punching fouls on both teams during the same play, the team last offended is awarded possession.
1975-76
• After any playing court violation, the ball is to be put into play at the sideline.
1976-77
• For an inbounds play for the last two minutes, the offensive team has the option of moving the ball to midcourt or taking it at the spot following a timeout.
• The “force out” rule is eliminated.
• If less than five seconds appear on the 24-second clock when the offensive team is entitled to a throw-in, the clock will be reset to five seconds.
• The team that gains possession after the opening tap will put the ball into play at their opponent’s end line to begin the fourth period. The team losing the opening tap will put the ball into play at their opponent’s end line at the beginning of the second and third quarters.
In putting the ball into play, the thrower-in may run along the end line or pass it to a teammate who is also out-of-bounds at the end line--as after a score.
• Any player who engages in a fight is subject to a fine of $10,000 and a suspension.
This went into effect March 7, 1977.
1977-78
• If a coach wants to discuss a rule or an interpretation of a rule prior to the start of a period, it will be mandatory for the officials to ask the other coach to be present during the discussion. Previously, the rule only addressed pre-game discussions.
• Any field goal that, in the opinion of the officials is intentionally scored in the wrong basket shall be disallowed.
• The 24-second shot clock shall be reset to 24 seconds on all violations, as well as after a zone warning.
• If the ball enters the basket from below, a violation has occurred.
• Fine increased from $100 to $150 for a player not in the game who does not remain in the vicinity of his team’s bench during a fight.
• A $25 fine shall be assessed to any player hanging on the rim during pre-game warm-up.
• Following a missed free throw, it is not necessary for a player to return to the floor with a rebound before attempting to score.
• Following a 20-second timeout, a team may only substitute for the injured player. The opponent may then also substitute one player.
• In order to protest the result of a game notice must be sent to the Commissioner’s office within 48 hours after the game. No protests may be filed after midnight of the day of the last game of the regular season.
• If a player is fouled and is subsequently ejected from the game before shooting the free throw(s), he must immediately leave the court and one of his teammates on the floor will be designated by the opposing coach to shoot.
1978-79
• Number of referees officiating game increased from two to three.

• The three-point field goal is tried in pre-season.
1979-80
• Three-point line established 22 feet in the corners extending to 23 feet, nine inches at the top of the key.

• Number of referees officiating game reduced from three to two.
• If a team is attempting to bring the ball across the centerline within 10 seconds and a defensive player causes the ball to go out of bounds in the backcourt, the offensive team will no longer receive an additional 10-second count in which to advance the ball past the centerline
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Wow...This game has come a long way.  Some of these rule changes have in fact CHANGED THE
GAME...However, only a couple of NBA players [CHAMBERLAIN, MIKAN] were so dominant
that they CHANGED THE GAME. Peace.