It feels like ancient history, but it was a little over a month ago when the Raptors and Bucks started their Eastern Conference battle to get to the Finals.
One of the side storylines was the league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his euro-step. What makes Giannis unique is that he can control the ball at his size, run in transition, and finish at the rim with taking one or two dribbles from the half court. But can he?
To point out, he might’ve lost the regular season MVP to Giannis, but James Harden is still the traveling MVP of the NBA. Funny how bending basketball’s fundamental rule gives you a competitive advantage. When Harden started to pull off his step-back, so many people were frustrated and called the refs out, the league had to reiterate the “gather step” interpretation. The main question is, when do you start counting the steps?
Is it the from the moment the ball is in the air and the player has stopped dribbling or when he puts both hands on the ball? Here’s what NBA ref Zach Zarba said (via Business Insider)
“So I would ask people to look at when the ball is gathered. Okay, if you look at when the ball is gathered, that pivot foot is not the first step. That is the zero step. So, after that pivot foot, when they step back into a 1, 2, that in the NBA is a legal two-step.”
I said it before, and I’ll repeat it. If that’s the case, they should change the rule. It is just against the spirit of the game. Dribbling is a fundamental necessity that limits movement, requires skill and if the basic rule is you can’t make two steps without dribbling and then continue to dribble, don’t create exceptions that skew the nature of the game so much.
The reason why players as tall as Giannis were never the ball-handlers in the past is that controlling the ball at their height is extremely hard without traveling. Well, it used to be. Harden’s step-back and Giannis’ euro-step are two different moves, but the fundamental logic is the same. What drives people crazy about Giannis isn’t just the euro-step. Go back up top and look at the first few steps he does after the ball is passed to him. Is that a travel?
Giannis says no, it’s not. While at a basketball camp, he talked about the number of steps allowed while dribbling, to be more precise, while the ball is in the air. Take a look:
I don’t know about you, but not sure Giannis is right on that one. He is suggesting that while dribbling, you can take as many steps as you want while the ball is in the air AND continue to dribble or gather the ball, at which time you have two steps to shoot or pass. “As I go here, the ball is in the air. So it looks like I take four steps.”
Well, he does take four steps. The theory behind them is he is rolling to gather the ball, so the number of steps between his final dribble and the gather is unlimited. Him being tall and quick, that’s a few steps more than your average Joe.
We will focus on Free Agency in the next few days and then find a lawyer that loves basketball to hold our hand while we read “Rule No. 10: Violations and Penalties.”
Stay tuned for more on this later.