Everything San Antonio Spurs fans need to know about fouls in the NBA

Spurs v Mavericks X
Spurs v Mavericks X / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Basketball is a contact sport, but the rules of the game restrict how much physicality players can use to stop their opponents from scoring a basket. While grappling, tackling, and collisions are staples of the NFL and NHL, the NBA has made a concerted effort to distance itself from the rough-and-tumble reputation that once defined the association.

The league has prioritized player safety in recent years, but referees cracking down on extracurricular activities has directly resulted in an influx of points while improving the entertainment value of the on-court product. Too much pushing, holding, or slapping will earn you an ear-piercing whistle and a one-way ticket to a personal foul on the stat sheet.

Fouls can be committed on either end of the floor, and every player has a six-foul limit before they are disqualified from the game and forced to watch the rest of the action from the bench. Although these infractions come at the discretion of the officials, every coach has a nightly challenge they can use to overturn a call they believe was issued incorrectly.

Blocking fouls, flagrant fouls, technical fouls, offensive fouls, over-the-back fouls, illegal screens, and charges are some of the most prominent types of violations in the league. You probably get the point, but to avoid any lingering confusion, this is how the NBA defines a foul in their official rulebook.

"A player shall not hold, push, charge into, impede the progress of an opponent by extending a hand, arm, leg or knee or by bending the body into a position that is not normal.  Contact that results in the re-routing of an opponent is a foul which must be called immediately."

Fouls can leave superstars on the sidelines and send opponents to the free-throw line, which makes it pivotal to have players who understand how to operate under control on both sides of the ball. The San Antonio Spurs have created a culture around mastering the fundamentals of the game, but even some of their all-timers have been on the wrong end of a fair share of whistles.

San Antonio Spurs All-Time Personal Fouls Leaders

1. Tim Duncan (3304)
2. David Robinson (2835)
3. George Gervin (2802)
4. Manu Ginobili (2212)
5. Tony Parker (2006)
6. Mark Olberding (1825)
7. Coby Dietrick (1742)
8. James Silas (1628)
9. Sean Elliott (1452)
10. Rich Jones (1365)

You might be surprised to see Tim Duncan and David Robinson at the top of this list, especially since analysts believe they are two of the best rim protectors in league history. How could the Twin Towers account for so many fouls when they combined to make 23 All-Defensive Teams? When you lace 'em up for over a decade, you're bound to pick up a handful of fouls along the way.