My bio on this page says it all. I'm that grumpy "hater" yelling at the screen every time a travel or a carry doesn't get called. (As you can imagine, I yell a lot.) After a fan called out a truly egregious carry by Ja Morant, my yelling was vindicated by Donovan Mitchell who was fair and honest about the plague of carrying the ball.
”We all do it.”
The difference in rules is the most overlooked element of cross-generation comparisons. Most of us don't have enough understanding and basketball knowledge to claim with authority how much a certain rule change, for instance the hand-checking rule, made the game different.
But even if we ignore all those changes, how about the rules that are still the same, yet for some reason, referees aren't calling them anymore? I guess it's a bit easier to be lightning-fast when you can carry the ball.
The consensus in the comments is clear - "Nba doesn’t call carry. EVERYONE DOES IT 😂” In the forest of NBA fans agreeing this has become standard, one tree stood out. Donovan Mitchell also agreed with the comment that ”Ja Morant carries the ball on pretty much every possession...and it never gets called. This is pretty excessive too,” and had enough honesty to point out it's not just Ja that does this.
Stephen Jackson also chimed in and pointed out that this is definitely a carry, but it contributed to the attractiveness of the game - and we all know not a lot of people buy tickets, jerseys, and cable packages to watch nicely set screens and a crisp defensive rotation.
”If they call that his game would change. It’s def a carry but he so creative it’s hard to call it. He just that nice. Crafty.” Stack wrote in the comments.
Let me be clear; I love watching Ja play and have no problem if the carry rules are loosened up so we can see more spectacular basketball. But be intellectually honest, and admit that guys in the past didn't get as many discounts.
Is Rick Barry my NBA spirit animal?
After our interview with Rick Barry on ”1-ON-1 with Basketball Network,” I found myself agreeing with a lot of what the legend said. Then I researched Mr. Barry a bit more and found that apart from being a tremendous player, the main attribute you'd find next to his name was an NSFW version of not-you-favorite-coworker.
If I agree a lot with someone described as difficult and an assh**e, what does it say about me? Maybe I am too, but dammit, this makes sense.
“Get the officials to call it by the rule book. Stop the traveling, stop the carrying of the ball, stop the moving screens. Call the damn game according to the rule book, because the players will adjust. If you're going to allow them to get away with it, well of course I'm going to keep doing it. ... I charted a game a few years ago, Chicago vs. Atlanta. 59 moving screens, 59! That's insane! I can't even tell you how many times they carried the ball, or how many times they traveled.”
Rick Barry, Basketball News
What Barry said next is the most important part that people most often overhear. Players today are incredible, and if you called the fundamental rules of basketball - dribbling the ball properly, meaning not carrying it and not traveling - the players would adapt and still produce tremendous games.
The NBA we have today is the path of least resistance. Yes, the number of commercials and time-outs that turn 12 minutes of a 4th quarter into a 30-40 minute marathons are problem no.1. But right behind it, at least for me, is the total disrespect for the basic premise of basketball.
So every time they say, ”a guy this tall shouldn't be able to be this fast,” or something to that effect, the Rick Barry in me goes back and looks at a few highlights. That's when the yelling starts.