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Wob: Is James Harden’s Controversial New Move a Travel?

Oct 10, 2018 12:49 AM EDT

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chris Paul and James Harden

  • James Harden unveiled a controversial -- and potentially unstoppable -- new move on Wednesday night against the Shanghai Sharks.
  • Should it be considered a travel, according to the NBA's rule book?

My head hurts.

For the past 20 minutes, I’ve been watching James Harden’s filthy new move against the Shanghai Sharks trying to figure out if it was a travel or not.

OK, here we go again. I’m going to break something down frame-by-frame based on a first impression … What could possibly go wrong?

The NBA rulebook states, word for word:

  • a. A player who receives the ball while standing still may pivot, using either foot as the pivot foot.
  • b. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may use a two-count rhythm in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing may use a two-count rhythm to start his dribble.
  • The first count occurs:
    • (1) As he receives the ball, if either foot is touching the floor at the time he receives it.
    • (2) As the foot touches the floor, or as both feet touch the floor simultaneously after he receives the ball, if both feet are off the floor when he receives it.
  • The second occurs:
    • (1) After the count of one when either foot touches the floor, or both feet touch the floor simultaneously.

There is a “gather step” interpretation that needs to be considered, as well:

UPDATE: The NBA has delivered their verdict as well.

Well if that’s the case then I hope to gather step my way through Europe one day with nothing but a backpack and a toothbrush.

I don’t agree that this is a “gather step,” as the ball never touched the ground; he went behind the back and his left foot remained stationary during the progression of the move.

In addition, it appears Harden’s right foot comes off-the-ground.

Are we considering it a step when the right foot comes back down? Or is this a “gather”?

That’s ultimately what needs to be figured out here because he does take two additional steps after the right foot returns to the floor. If it’s a gather, it’s not a travel.

But you need to sell me on what exactly he is “gathering”…

All that matters is that it was deemed legal during Wednesday’s game.

NBA referees have traditionally officiated gather steps loosely, so it’s easy to comprehend why this was permitted and why it will for the foreseeable future.

My head still hurts.

It is an annual tradition now for James Harden to invent a new non-travel travel move.

For his next trick, he’s going to figure out a way to do a legal cartwheel like Biggie Little in NBA Street.

If Harden actually utilizes this move throughout the regular season, he’s going to repeat as MVP — right?

2018-19 NBA MVP Odds

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