Travelling in Basketball?

Does the rule even exist anymore?

I’m not major follower of the sport these days but it seems like every time I see clips almost everything looks like travelling to me? Am I being stupid and just not appreciating the skill that is going on or have the rules changed in the last 20 years or so?

The NBA lets players get away with quite a bit. Something that’s a lot more popular now than a decade ago is the Eurostep, where the 2 allowable steps are not in the same direction. Sometimes it looks like traveling. But, you’ve also got James Harden picking up his dribble and stepping back about four steps with no call sometimes. Officiating has never been the NBA’s strength.

You get, I believe, two steps without dribbling. Take into account how large the steps of a 6’6" trained athlete are and how far and high they can jump after the second step and it may very well look like they carried the ball halfway across the court.

There’s also the “gather provision”, which allows three steps in some circumstances.

DB Coopa, are there clips you can link to that look like traveling to you?

It’s both, I think. There’s definitely a lot more looseness in what’s allowed now compared to fifty years ago-- as long as you’ve taken a dribble and keep moving, you can pretty much pick up the ball, take three steps in any direction or combination of directions, and as long as you get rid of the ball in some way at the end of that, you’re fine. And in practice, often four steps is quite possible. NBA referees really, really, don’t like calling traveling on someone who’s moving and taking a shot. (you can still get called for travelling on a slow post-up move).

So it is looser. But, the players are also really really good at using those three steps. Often I’ll find myself screaming at the TV about a travel, and upon rewinding see that it actually wasn’t one (by current standards) – the player got the ball off before the fourth step; they were just so good at using them it seemed like they must have traveled.

The answer to the OP’s question is that Yes, the NBA has changed the way traveling is called. Specifically, in 2009, the League codified the way the offense was often officiated, by officially allowing two steps after receiving a pass or “collecting” the dribble.

Now, this shouldn’t have mattered, because that’s what referees were calling in the first place (and had been for decades!). But the reason they were allowing two steps when the rule book said one was that they didn’t like calling traveling, and it makes for a more “exciting” game when players can extend moves to the hoop (especially in this dunk-crazy version of the NBA). So, not shockingly, when the rule was changed to two steps, officials started allowing three steps to creep in (they still hate calling it).

I remember hearing the joke back in the Jordan era that it was one and half steps plus one step for every MVP award the player had won.

I think this pretty much answers it for me. Thanks for all your responses on this one.