By Ken Reed
I’m a basketball fan, but I’m not a big NBA fan. I prefer college and high school basketball. I like the passion and intensity levels at the college and high school levels. Plus, in the high school and college games there isn’t the constant complaining and moaning to officials after nearly every call, like you find in the NBA.
That said, I really enjoy the NBA playoffs. The intensity is turned up, and combined with the elite talent and athleticism of the players, some great games and individual performances are the result.
However, I am annually curious as to why the NBA officials refuse to call obvious traveling violations. It’s not like they ignore other basketball rules. On the rare occasions when you see a double dribble, for example, it is almost always called. Seemingly innocuous contact on the perimeter by defenders is called on a regular basis. If an offensive player driving to the hoop extends his off-hand — even a little — an offensive foul is likely to result. Sure, NBA officials let a lot of pushing and shoving in the post area go but that’s often true in college and high school games as well.
But traveling? It’s almost a non-existent call in the Association. Players regularly get from the free throw line to the hoop without taking a dribble. It’s not unusual to see on replays that a player has taken three (and sometimes four) full steps before finishing a shot.
So, the question is why? Why does the NBA apparently believe that if a traveling violation is called the game will be ruined?
I know numerous basketball fans and coaches at the college and high school levels — some would call them basketball purists — who hate the NBA solely because they refuse to call traveling.
Do NBA executives think their fans will march out of arenas and never come back if a game has five traveling calls instead of zero?
It’s not like the NBA players couldn’t play the game without traveling. They all know what traveling is due to their experiences in high school and college (or in European or other overseas leagues). If the NBA decided to call traveling again, these players would quickly adapt.
Bottom line, the lack of traveling calls is annoying. (Almost as annoying as seeing virtually every NBA player barking and crying after every whistle.)
The NBA should either call traveling as defined in the rule book (basically, two steps: the pivot foot once it leaves the floor can’t return to the floor without the ball being released) or change the rule so that players are allowed three or four steps before traveling will be called.
Now, back to the playoffs.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
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League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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