Still bickering about LeBron James' "travel"

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
10:48
AM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
The topic simmers on. One of the shortest posts in TrueHoop history was a link to a Hardwood Paroxsym story about a move LeBron James made in the third quarter of the Cavaliers' Game 2 loss to the Celtics.

The point of the Hardwood Paroxysm post, and my post, was to show that James did not travel, even though -- thanks to his high, odd-looking bunny hop -- a lot of people thought he did.

But the comments on Hardwood Paroxysm make clear that the matter is far from settled. An edited sampling:

thefoulness: Clearly a travel

Lukas: I can’t believe anyone actually thinks this is a travel. It was a perfectly executed, textbook jump-stop. You don’t even have to look at it in slow motion to know that.

Ayj says: Look if that is not a travel, then nothing is.

Seth: ... His jump is so high it seems like he’s going for a shot but then changes his mind and lands on two feet. What’s the difference between this and going for a layup off the same dribble jump combo but when you’re getting close realizing you’re going to be blocked and just landing on two feet then going back up again?

Beetle: Obvious travel. You can’t jump up with the ball, and then land while still holding the ball. That is called an UP AND DOWN … a variation of traveling.

M Jordan: puhahahahahaha that is so obviously a travel! hahahhahahaha And Seth makes a hilariously good point! hahahaha

mike: all those people who say “Clearly a travel” and “you must be retarded if its not a travel” and “that’s 3 steps” clearly have not ever used the jump stop. its a great move that allows your second contact point to be with both feet, as long as they are simultaneously placed on the ground. LeBron travels a ton, and it never gets called. Pretty ironic how the one time he actually doesn’t travel everyone gets all upset about it.

The NBA rulebook is almost no help here. (See below.) I mean, it can tell you if this is a travel or not, but certainly not in a way that's going to win any comment board arguments. The nitty gritty of the rule is so batter-dipped and deep-fried in legalese that most people can't tell if it's a corn dog or fish and chips.

Thankfully, however, the NBA made its own online video rulebook for just this kind of thing, however. And they address this exact kind of play, with a video example you can watch right now, to go with written explanations. The video rulebook was created by the same people who tell the referees how to call the games. Watch their example of a legal jump stop. This is the accompanying text, with their emphasis:
This is an example of a LEGAL jump stop by an offensive player, and this is NOT a traveling violation. An offensive player may end his dribble by alighting off of one foot and landing simultaneously on both feet. The offensive player on this play gathers the ball, alights from his right foot, and then lands with both feet simultaneously on the floor. Note that at this point, the player may not pivot; if he lifts either foot, the ball must be released prior to that foot returning to the floor.

The rulebook describes precisely what James did. I'm not sure how it could be more clear that James' move was legal.

You might be wondering: How could such a basic part of the game so divide serious fans? The answer lies in the way the rule is worded. See for yourself, after the jump.

From the NBA Rulebook:

Section XIV-Traveling

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.

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 simultane- ously 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.

c. A player who comes to a stop on the count of one may pivot, using either foot as the pivot foot.

d. A player who comes to a stop on the count of two, with one foot in advance of the other, may pivot using only the rear foot as the pivot foot.

e. A player who comes to a stop on the count of two, with neither foot in advance of the other, may use either foot as the pivot foot.

f. In starting a dribble after (1) receiving the ball while standing still, or (2) coming to a legal stop, the ball must be out of the player's hand before the pivot foot is raised off the floor.

g. If a player, with the ball in his possession, raises his pivot foot off the floor, he must pass or shoot before his pivot foot returns to the floor. If he drops the ball while in the air, he may not be the first to touch the ball.

h. A player who falls to the floor while holding the ball, or while coming to a stop, may not gain an advantage by sliding.

i. A player who attempts a field goal may not be the first to touch the ball if it fails to touch the backboard, basket ring or another player.

PENALTY: Loss of ball. The ball is awarded to the opposing team at the sideline, nearest spot of the violation but no nearer the baseline than the foul line extended.

Henry Abbott | email

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