The spirit of the airborne shooter rule is to penalize the defense for fouling a player in the act of shooting by awarding bonus throws.
Why do we have rules? Other than to provide basic regulations and guidelines for the game to proceed in a fair manner, they are there to protect the players from injury. I tell my children this all the time. Why do I not want you to jump flips off your bed? I think you get the picture.
The Airborne shooter rule is one of those types of rules. It is there to protect players who are vulnerable because they are not on the floor and are not able to change the direction of their bodies. If they are “acted on by an outside force” the potential for a hard landing, twisted ankle, and any number of other possibilities exists.
Rule 4.1 defines an airborne shooter as a “player who has released the ball on a try for goal or has tapped the ball and has not returned to the floor.” The next part is what penalizes the defense for committing a foul on an airborne shooter. The airborne shooter is “considered to be in the act of shooting.” Now we know that when the defense fouls an airborne shooter they will be awarded two bonus throws.
Here is a perfect example that should have been called a foul on the airborne shooter.