Aim of the game
Two teams of five players must try to score points by putting the ball into the opposing side’s basket as many times as possible before time runs out
Why should you watch this?
Because you will witness a genuine battle of the giants, packed with incredible tricks and dribbles, and jaw-dropping slam dunks
A pass that is thrown towards the basket and the receiving player jumps, catches the ball in mid-air and slam dunks before touching the ground
When a shot misses the basket without even touching the rim or the backboard
A quick movement by a player, with the aim of losing their marker and getting into a good shooting position
Impress your friends
Basketball started as an alternative for students who couldn't play outdoor sports during the harsh winter in the northern United States
Peach baskets were used as targets until someone suggested cutting out the bottoms so the balls could fall through without stopping the flow of the game
In Barcelona in 1992, NBA stars – including Michael Jordan and ‘Magic’ Johnson – participated in the Games for the first time, forming the USA ‘Dream Team’
In the final second of a game against France at London 2012, Australia’s Belinda Snell scored from inside her own half to tie the match – but France won in overtime
Brazil’s Oscar ‘Mão Santa’ (Holy Hand) Schmidt holds the record for the most points scored, with 49,737 over a career that spanned five Olympic Games
The tallest basketball player to have participated in the Olympic Games is China's Yao Ming, at 2.29m
Centre circle: this is where the excitement starts. On the whistle the ball is thrown upwards between two opposing players, and the first team to take possession can start attacking the basket.
Key: An attacking player has to get busy in this area, as they cannot stay longer than three seconds.
Games are divided into four 10-minute quarters and each team has 24 seconds of ball possession before they must shoot.
A 45cm hoop with a fixed hanging net that the ball falls through. The backboard is used by players to help put the ball into the hoop.
Baskets are worth one, two or three points, depending on the player’s position on the court. If the ball is shot from behind the three-point line, the basket is worth three points – shots from on or inside this line are worth two points. The free throw is like a penalty shot in basketball, worth one point.
Players can only take two steps while holding the ball, but can keep going if they are dribbling (bouncing).
Point guard: The brain of the team, organises the attacks.
Shooting guard: Responsible for scoring baskets, this player is the team’s marksman.
Small forward: Tall and agile so they can get close to the basket and shoot accurately.
Power forward: One of the strongest members of the team, their mission is to dominate rebounds and defend.
Centre: The tallest player on the team, they are the last line of defence and important in attack.
Made of eight leather panels, the ball has a circumference of 76cm and weighs 600-650g.