Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was incensed. Here are the factors: the Spurs were about to lose their 4th straight. The Spurs are playing without Tony Parker and MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs were playing the Warriors, who they had a chance of beating last year until Leonard went down on Zaza Pachulia’s rogue foot in the Western Conference Finals. But what probably pushed basketball purist Popovich into the red zone is that he was trying to get the referees to call a travel. And no one in the NBA knows what a travel is anymore. Even though it’s in the NBA Rulebook:
Rule 9, Section XIII, Item (b): A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing must release the ball to start his dribble before his second step. The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after gaining control of the ball.
James Harden can give quite a lesson in what “gaining control of the ball means” — it means four steps. When the NBA gives the greatest athletes in the world four steps to get to the basket, or allows them to change their pivot feet as they please or enter the lane with a “crab dribble” (otherwise known as LeBron James’ technique for taking two hops to get to his spot) then the highlights sure look good. But the basketball? It suffers. And the coaches: they can get angry, like Pop. As Charles Barkley says in this Shaqtin’ A Fool NBA traveling special: “In the NBA, they don’t call travels.”
It’s awfully hard to play good defense if the guy you’re trying to guard can travel. And Pop’s guys work so hard on defense he’s got to defend them. Here’s the play the sparked his ire, and his ire itself:
Gregg Popovich has been ejected after receiving his 2nd technical foul 😳 pic.twitter.com/Lb00jiORxz
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 3, 2017