Trent Tucker – the man, the play, the rule change

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Basketball is a game of fine margins, and the smallest things can change the course of the game. When Trent Tucker took to the court in 1990 he had no idea he would end up changing the game of basketball forever. The player will go down in history, both for his skill and the play that changed the game forever.

The man

Trent Tucker started his career like many other NBA stars. First, he excelled at high school then impressed at college before getting drafted to the professional game with the New York Knicks. Tucker had a pretty successful NBA career playing as shooting guard, and he even won the championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1993.

He scored over 6,000 points in a successful NBA career, but three of those points have been heavily contested. Tucker would retire following his championship-winning season, but it was when playing against the Bulls the Tucker would make his most famous and controversial play.

The play

Tucker was playing with the Knicks on January 15, 1990, in what seemed like an ordinary game of basketball. The game was a close one, and the Bulls were winning at the end of the fourth quarter. Tucker stepped up and drained a three-pointer as the buzzer went off. Just 0.1 seconds were remaining on the clock when Tucker took his shot, and it really annoyed the Bulls coach Phil Jackson.

After the game Jackson let his feelings be known to anyone and everyone who would listen to him. He was insisting there had been a miscarriage of justice, but the result stood. Jackson’s moaning didn’t go unnoticed however and following the game between the Knicks and the Bulls an immediate rule change was implemented. Tucker had just changed the face of basketball forever.

The rule change

The ball was passed to Tucker, and he shot with just 0.1 seconds remaining, but for some that was too close to the buzzer, even though his shot beat it. Following the game the Trent Tucker Rule was instated which disallows any regular shot to be taken with under 0.3 seconds on the shot clock.

The player must gain control before the clock shows only 0.3 seconds remaining if they shoot for the basket without interception. Players can only shoot with so little time on the clock if they dunk the ball directly into the basket or the ball is tipped in by another player.

Although Tucker’s shot appeared to beat the buzzer, some argued it probably didn’t if they had the technology to confirm it. Therefore it was adjudged that it would take a minimum of 0.3 seconds for a player to convert a shot to the basket. Any shots taken under 0.3 seconds are now ruled as invalid.

Thanks to Trent Tucker’s successful three-pointer taken with just 0.1 seconds remaining, the rules were changed forever. No one took his points away from him, but anyone taking the same shot after 1990 would no longer get the points.

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