Giannis Antetokounmpo is making traveling impossible to call
The rules were not designed with him in mind.
To the naked eye, this looks like an obvious travel on Giannis Antetokounmpo. How can a player go from well outside the 3-point line to the basket without dribbling? As cool as it looks, shouldn’t the rules be enforced?
Drill it down deeper, though, and it becomes murkier. The travel rule is often misunderstood to mean two steps and two steps only. In reality, the NBA rulebook states that you get two steps “upon completion of a dribble.” In layman’s terms: you get two steps and a “gather” step that covers the time between your last dribble and when you put your hand(s) over the ball to terminate that dribble.
But this rule was not designed with Greek Freaks in mind. For most players, the gather is easy to identify. They’re short and they’re dribbling low to the ground, so they aren’t taking long leaps between their final dribble and when they cup the ball. Giannis, though, is different. Not only is he tall with arms that extend across skyscrapers, but he has a really high dribble. The process of gathering the ball takes a lot longer than normal human beings, yet it happens so quickly because he’s also so fast.
Now, to the matter of this play. It was not called a travel, and this was the explanation for why:
— #SCOOPNSCORE (@DanWeiner) December 6, 2014
The question is whether Antetokounmpo’s plant actually constitutes a step. Here’s the money shot.
From this angle, it appears Antetokounmpo has indeed gathered, which would mean that this is a step and thus he should only get one more. But remember: the referee is on the other side of the play, with a clearer view of Antetokounmpo’s right hand. Was it really on the ball after all? Clearly, the referee decided in a bang-bang situation that it wasn’t, making this Antetokounmpo’s gather. And thus, Antetokounmpo had two more steps he could take, which he used by covering the width of the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s never easy being an official. Antetokounmpo is making the job damn near impossible.