Traveling has been one of the most popular criticisms of the NBA for many years now, but it seems like it’s become even more of a problem recently. There are owners and coaches, such as Mark Cuban and Steve Kerr, that have been vocal in their disapproval of the rule’s enforcement. And even as a huge fan of the game, I can’t blame them or NBA critics, because guys like James Harden and LeBron James have been getting away with egregious travels for years now. But this isn’t the only rule that’s essentially a “suggestion” for NBA referees; here’s a list that would make James Naismith turn over in his grave.
This is the most obvious missed call in every NBA game. Most times a travel won’t be called because of the play’s entertainment value, like a fast break dunk or a fancy layup in traffic. This is still wrong, but sort of understandable considering that the NBA is in the entertainment business. But the extra step on a drive or fast break isn’t the only thing that the refs are neglecting. One of my biggest pet peeves is that players are allowed to change or drag their pivot foot multiple times without getting called for a violation. Just look at Celtics legend Kendrick Perkins!
These are rarely called because they might not “directly affect the outcome of the possession” but they can still give the offensive player an advantage, especially in the low post. Next time you watch a Bulls game, keep an eye on Jimmy Butler, I’ve seen him drag or switch his pivot foot plenty of times without getting called.
Easily the most frequently broken rule in the NBA, the NCAA and even high school.
Palming has essentially become the accepted way of dribbling, which explains why players today can pull off ankle-breaking crossovers, while the Bob Cousy’s of the world were even called for violations on behind the back dribbles.
- Moving screens
This is actually a rule that needs to be called far more often during an NBA game. Kevin Garnett got away with ridiculous moving screens his entire career, and it afforded Ray Allen plenty of undeserved open looks.
The rule actually doesn’t prevent the screener from moving his feet, but the exact wording states that “The screener may move in the same direction and path of the opponent being screened.” So, the screener can move in the direction of the defender until they have actually attempted to go around the pick.
No NBA big man actually follows that rule, and illegal screening has become an integral part of trying to free up sharpshooters for catch and shoot threes. Like how Andrew Bogut used to create open shots for Klay and Steph
Adam Silver needs to find someway to crack down on these screens, because players can actually get seriously injured from a moving pick.
- Defensive 3 seconds
This rule was implemented when “illegal defenses” were axed, which had essentially kept NBA defenses from overloading one side of the court. This defensive 3 second rule had the same intention as illegal defenses, it was meant to keep extra defenders from hanging around in the painted area, clogging up the lane.
Tom Thibodeau was the first coach to really take advantage of this rule change, as he ignored the defensive 3 second rule, keeping extra defenders on the strong side of the defense. He figured that referees would swallow their whistles, and he was right. Rarely will an official actually call a defensive player for 3 seconds in the paint, and the penalty of one extra free throw isn’t stringent enough to keep them from breaking the rule.
There are far too many things happening during an NBA possession for the officials to always have an eye on this rule, so it’s broken far too often to be taken seriously.
- Free Throw Lane Violations
This post from NBA Reddit is actually what prompted me to make this blog. Isaiah Thomas is a great free throw shooter, but his foot actually crosses the line before half of his attempts. During a free throw everyone else is allowed to move once the ball is released, the shooter must remain behind the free throw line until the ball makes contact with the rim. This keeps the shooter from unfairly getting offensive rebounds, but IT has not once been called for this. Other players like Russell have been known to do this.
These violations have the potential for incredible offensive putbacks, but in the end are still illegal. Again, we come back to the NBA valuing entertainment over rule enforcement.
When it comes down to it, we can whine all we want about unenforceable rules, but the NBA will value the entertainment of their product over being sticklers about the rule book. I doubt Adam Silver will be crusading to make these calls anytime soon.