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Did Dwyane Wade travel on key play? Close examination says no.

May 29, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT

Here’s why Dwyane Wade had a dumbfounded look on his face after he got called for traveling with 26.9 seconds left in Game 4 — he does that little step back move all the time. And it’s never called a travel.

And it wasn’t this time.

The video above is courtesy our old friend Rob Mahoney, now of Sports Illustrated, who broke the footage down for The Point Forward. He quotes the Rulebook and adds these comments.

“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.”

The operative word is bolded above, as the most crucial determination to be made on this play is when Wade gains control of the ball. If he gathers his dribble either simultaneously or slightly after planting his foot (as appears to be the case), then his play is legitimate. If he gains control before taking that step, then it would count as the first in his sequence and thus make the play a violation.

The officiating Tuesday night was rough. It was bad both ways — the 24 second call on the Pacers in the fourth quarter was egregious, I don’t think LeBron James’ sixth foul was one, and we could go on and on down the list. (Just spare me Heat fans if you think the refs cost you the game, your guys had chances to put this away and take it out of the refs’ hands and blew it.)

All we can hope for in Game 5 is more competence. And maybe fewer technical — let the guys show some emotion and disagree a little, it’s the playoffs.

  1. thetruth702 - May 29, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    is this a damn joke? obviouspy traveledm can’t stop pick up ball and then slide your plant foot on the ground. travel. dont be idioticm nba is screwin pacers every chance they getm why you think lebron was so shocked when he was ejected. never happens. L

    • mckaymatt - May 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      Your spelling is a joke, and I wouldn’t say the Pacers are being “screwed” by the NBA. My only complaint has been inconsistent officiating both ways which is making the serious lack any flow. The games have been hard fought by both teams and the refs are trying to take center stage.

      • mckaymatt - May 29, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        serious = series…I guess I’m a joke too.

    • anjohn39 - May 29, 2013 at 11:37 PM

      I think we can all agree that the officiating being displayed with the ECF is horrible. Ask yourself this, why wasn’t it a issue with the WCF? I’m not a hatter I love watching High level basketball between to competitive teams. My issue is with Miami and they can’t help but be the very issue because of all the press they receive from ESPN. Miami has gotten more than just a few wins by Officiating. Have you noticed when Miami is down or being outplayed the majority of the game and then theres always like a 6 point swing that always favors MIAMI. Its either a few calls that goes against the other team or the refs will let Miami foul or grab or block and wont call it on them. Out of the four games with the Pacers the refs have done this 2 games especially evident late in game 4. D wade can just jump in the middle and slap or pull at anything and theres no call . Miami isn’t as great as a defensive team as people think

  2. mikeloroz - May 29, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    It looks pretty clear to me that he has both hands on the ball while his front foot is down, making that his pivot foot. Then he takes two steps back, so it’s a travel.

    Both this call and the LeBron foul look like the correct calls to me. The beef is that officials let both of these kinds of plays go all the time.

    • pantsfreezone - May 29, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      By your definition, every step back jumpshot in the history of the NBA has been a travel.

      • hickoryhigh - May 29, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        The step back issue may have merit, although I think it’s a travel because, due to the timing of the move, he had established a pivot foot, which he then moved. But the beginning of his move was definitely a travel, which Kurt and the original dude seem to discount. He comes to a stop and then move both feet before dribbling, which is a travel. As evidence, we can look at other, important parts of the NBA rule book:

        f. In starting a dribble after (1) receiving the ball while standing still, or (2) coming to a legal stop, the ball must be out of the player’s hand before the pivot foot is raised off the floor.

        He raised both feet, then planted his left before the ball ever came out of his hand. That’s a travel.

      • scoocha - May 29, 2013 at 9:25 PM

        You can’t step back with both feet if you’ve discontinued your dribble.

  3. tjones22 - May 29, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Horrible call

  4. udogg - May 29, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Time to reset the ref issue particularly because the resident blogger here appears to be looking for truth, justice, and the NBA big market/superstar way.

    Wade issue aside for a moment and back to the James foul – at issue here isn’t the “what” but the “who”. After reading and listening to much commentary today, the focus isn’t the foul itself but that it was a foul on Lebron of all things. That’s the problem. Had nearly anyone else been called for that foul, there would have been very little said. Same goes for the Wade travel.

    Both of these events have taken center stage because of the “who” and not the “what”. Can anyone honestly say either of these two calls were worse than the 24 second violation miss by ALL refs? I guess the media has to maintain the league’s big market/superstar bias.

    • mckaymatt - May 29, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      I agree to a point what you are saying, but the Wade call I feel it wouldn’t matter who did it, “travels” happen regularly for players all game that aren’t called, it’s the ones that are blatant that they call. If they called every travel on drives ect no one would be dunking and no one would be getting into the lane and scoring. The flow last night was brutal and it would be worse with that stuff going on.

      The Pacers call was ridiculous, and I don’t think the media is making a bias towards bigger market but those two plays happened with less than 1.30 left in the game and were pretty big considering the score at the time. The heat can’t use these plays as excuses but considering neither of those fouls are called consistently is the issue, the let those screens go all game and then call one at that time? That’s the big issue. The 24 second violition was completely idiotic, which is probably why it’s not analyzed, everyone knew it was a joke.

      • Kurt Helin - May 29, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        I don’t think there is any question the 24 second call was wrong. This at least can be argued, as can the sixth foul on LeBron.

      • gmsingh - May 29, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        Yes, Kurt, stuff called against the Heat can always be “argued”. This is all rather mind blowing. Stephenson got called for a foul because LeBron stepped on his foot and tweaked his ankle, and Paul George got called for a foul because he was shoved by Ray Allen, fell to the floor, and got the foul when Allen tripped over him. And those were the two that I can remember. There was at least four or five fouls called against the Pacers in rapid succession, and they played a very clean game.

      • Kurt Helin - May 29, 2013 at 7:53 PM

        Only a hard core Pacers fan would say their game was clean. Nobody played a clean game.

      • gmsingh - May 30, 2013 at 7:51 AM

        Yes, I forgot about all the Birdmen they have on their team.

      • lmoneyfresh - May 29, 2013 at 6:45 PM

        I have a hard time believing that anybody could argue with Lebron’s 6th foul. He clearly moved his foot and hip out and into the defender, as proven by his follow through after the defender got around him.

      • okeetee1 - May 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        ….actually, if they called EVERY travel and palming violation the game WOULD be more watchable as the players would have to resort to PASSING more rather than trying to beat there man off the dribble by “picking up” there dribble, thus rendering the defender clueless and scratching his head dumbfound wondering “how am I suppose to stay in front of this guy when I never know when he’s picked up his dribble?”

  5. rodge1 - May 29, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Refs have taken control of this series by making terrible calls against both teams.

    • udogg - May 29, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      This is a response to Kurt –

      Again – if the foul had happened to nearly anyone other than Lebron it wouldn’t have gotten this scrutiny. The discussion is more about the “who” and not the “what”. If the “who” is forgotten, ask yourself if that call could have been made on a midling starter. The answer is an obvious yes.

      The same goes for the Wade travel, and there seems to be quite a bit of legitimate debate about that as well.

      Sure it creates something to talk about, but the calls are trending toward the Heat getting jobbed when it seems obvious that over the course of a game (regardless of foul shots taken) that the Heat generally come out on the beneficial side of the calls – especially against a small market nobody like the Pacers. That’s bull.

      • Kurt Helin - May 29, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        It is getting more scrutiny because it fouled out the Heat’s best player at the end of a close game. That is to be expected.

      • rootgamble - May 29, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        @Kurt – If a player is going to foul out chances are it’s gong to be at the end of the game. I don’t see why that has anything to do with it. The scrutiny of the call is because it was Lebron.

        I don’t see enough finger pointing at Spoelstra. Why is Lebron setting screens when he has 5 fouls? Avoid the whole situation by having someone else do that. Or maybe he’s thinking what the rest of us are thinking. No way they’ll call a 6th foul on Lebron.

      • Kurt Helin - May 29, 2013 at 5:45 PM

        It was the final minute of a close game and the best player on the floor picked up his sixth foul and you wonder if the timing is an issue?

      • gmsingh - May 29, 2013 at 6:19 PM

        So, Kurt, by “close scrutiny” you are saying you expect LeBron to get preferential treatment. Got it.

      • lmoneyfresh - May 29, 2013 at 6:52 PM

        That’s the point being argued Kurt. It shouldn’t matter who the foul was called on, how good he is and what point of the game it was called. A foul is a foul. If Lebron doesn’t want to pick up his 6th foul at the end of a close game, as the world’s best play he should probably not foul the defender like he did.

      • Kurt Helin - May 29, 2013 at 7:50 PM

        I don’t think he did, Wade rejected the screen and Stephenson ran into him.

  6. footballguru205 - May 29, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Come on guys, that was an easy travel call. First of all let me, make it clear that there are two scenarios where he could have traveled.
    The first was upon catching the ball and planting his feet. After the pump fake, he appeared to possibly have shuffled both feet before dribbling. TRAVEL.
    And the Second way, after dribbling in to perform the step back, it appears he did it right. But after the inward dribble, or in other words, after the “GATHER” Wade’s left foot appears to be making contact before Wade completes the step back and plants that foot beyond the 3 point line. To do it correctly, he should only plant that left foot once after the gather. In other words, Wade touches the floor twice with the left after the gather. TRAVEL

  7. reedme16 - May 29, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Wade took a dribble forward and bounced back on two feet. This move ids called a step back which is completely legal at all levels. It’s usually fine very fast to create separation. But Wade did every step really slow. Not sure if it’s because he was indecisive or his knee hurt, But that’s why it was called a travel. Because it looked very suspicious.

    • scoocha - May 29, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Cannot step back with both feet after stopping your dribble.

  8. adoombray - May 29, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    “Time to reset the ref issue particularly because the resident blogger here appears to be looking for truth, justice, and the NBA big market/superstar way.”

    I’ve never been afraid to take Helin to task, but this was actually a very insightful post and explained in detail in a way that I haven’t heard anywhere else. I thought it was a travel watching it live, but you can’t argue with the rulebook when it’s that thoroughly explained. There isn’t a hint of bias in this at piece at all and he even went the extra mile by writing the paragraph pointing out the other officiating problems too.

    The Heat went 1-of-9 in the final 5 minutes of the 4th quarter Tuesday, with an average shot distance of 22.8 feet on those attempts compared to the Pacers 15.1 avg. FGA distance. They outscored the Heat 6-0 in the paint during that time. The Pacers outscored the Heat 50-32 inside the paint in Game 4 after the Heat outscored the Pacers by 28 the first 3 games of the series. Roy Hibbert has 20+ points and 10+ boards in 3 straight games.

    So let’s stop blaming the refs, the Pacers dominated inside. “Small Ball” is the trendy new thing, but Indiana is showing the league that straight up team basketball and fundamentals are still going to win you games. Without a true center on the roster, Miami is getting abused by the 3-4-5.

  9. thenmoveback - May 29, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Been a fan of the heat since the early 90’s, Wade is my favorite player has been for a long time, as it happened i thought that was a travel, no problem with that call at all. As for the rest of the officiating…

  10. anhdazman - May 29, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    That wasn’t a travel. Totally legal. Refs need to swallow their whistles a little more and let the players play a bit. This is playoff basketball. I don’t want the zebras dictating the outcome of the basketball game if there are petty no factoring calls.
    Until some of these refs get penalized for poor performances from the top brass, they’re just going to keep screwing up without any repercussions.

    • scoocha - May 29, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      I would hate to play basketball against you. You’d just be running from end to end carrying the ball like a football without dribbling.
      I like the Heat, but it was a travel.

  11. jbeagles23 - May 29, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    By definition it wasn’t a travel. By league standards it wasn’t a travel. Every player in the nba travels often. Iverson made a career out of it

  12. crohrbaugh - May 29, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    5 steps and one dribble, any way you look at it that’s a travel.

    • gmsingh - May 29, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      Wade looked like he was still worrying about Kevin Durant in that Gatorade commercial.

  13. killerbones - May 29, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    The operative word you SHOULD make bold is PROGRESSING. If a player is driving to the hoop and takes two steps… progressing… it’s a layup. If the player is driving, stops, steps back two steps and shoots, that’s traveling. REgressing. What you typically see is the player picking up the dribble while the pivot foot is planted and the other up, then stepping back once to get the shot off. It would actually be quite hilarious to watch players stop, take two HUGE steps backwards, and then shoot. How do you defend that crap?

    • scoocha - May 29, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      Curry did just that this season but unfortunately I can’t remember the game to post the video. It was hilarious, he moved from the foul line to 3 point line without dribbling.

  14. much6in23the24clutch7 - May 29, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    At first look it does look like he traveled quite a bit but at a second slowed down look, it’s obviously not a travel

  15. reedme16 - May 29, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    All you people saying that is a travel obviously don’t play basketball. Every NBA player does this. Paul Pierce and Manu have made it their signature moves. But because you hate the Heat its an obvious travel.

    Whoever said 5 steps obviously has no clue. Your allowed to gather your feet when catching the ball.

    • scoocha - May 29, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Reed – just to clue you in, the NBA is not basketball. They’ve taken liberty with the real rules of basketball, which is fine because it’s their league but if we’re following the Naismith rules it’s a travel. You cannot step back once a pivot foot is determined.
      I like the Heat and this call didn’t lose the game for them. Win 2 of 3 and they’re good.

  16. davidly - May 29, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    It was the final minute of a close game and the best player on the floor picked up his sixth foul and you wonder if the timing is an issue?

    What’s the issue?

  17. jbeagles23 - May 29, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    I see a lot of people don’t watch basketball until the playoffs

  18. pdubbleu - May 29, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    The slow-mo close-up doesn’t show the crux of the call. In the first non-close up slo-mo at :33, after his ball fake, it looks like his left foot comes off the floor slightly, then back down…hard to tell if he just goes up on the ball of his foot or if it comes off from this distant camera angle. If it comes off, that is definitely a travel…travel calls are always questionable in the NBA, but technically it’s a travel…after his dribble there is no travel.

  19. stealthieone - May 29, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    if you guys think that lebrons screen was illegal…then Tim Duncan should foul out every game. Tim Duncan moves way more than that on every single screen.

  20. joeksnuffy - May 29, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    If you really want to slow this down, here is the sequence of events: (1) dribbles, (2) steps with right foot (though this is very soon after the dribble but still after), (3) step back behind 3 line with left foot, (4) step behind 3 line with right foot. That’s 3 steps after the dribble ==> traveling.

    If you think that’s splitting hairs a bit much, I can see that. But he did travel on the move right after the pump fake. He pump fakes and then moves both feet before dribbling.

    Yes, it’s a tough call in that situation. But, since Miami is the beneficiary of so many calls, all I can say is boo hoo.

  21. dannymac17 - May 29, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    he double tapped his left foot wtf

  22. joeksnuffy - May 29, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    By the way, I should add that Wade gets away with traveling all the time with his Euro step. It’s one thing to do this move with sort of normal stepping motions. But, Wade (and Ginobli) do these two steps like an Olympic long jump. This should be traveling. He and Ginobli are the masters of getting away with traveling in these (not so) subtle ways. Nice to see the basketball universe get one back. (Yes, I’m biased)

    Wade even spells out exactly how to get away with traveling in this video:

  23. amichaelreddfan - May 29, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    On the initial pump fake that is NOT a travel Dwayne is a pro at making it seem as if he is jumping. Look at his left leg only his knee bends and his heel does lift off the ground but the front of his for does not move. His foot doesn’t slide it doesn’t completely come off the ground. You are aloud to move your foot around in a sort of circular motion as long as it doesn’t move kind of like when you have a pivot foot and spin in a circle because your trapped or etc..

    As for the other play watch it in slow motion first then regular speed, this is not a travel because all wade does is hesitate at the point of the step back which you are aloud to do. He starts his one dribble and then when his left foot rises, he simply just hesitates and then step backs all in the middle of the dribble, most of you say his right foot should be his pivot and thats true if he stopped at that point. But hes still in mid dribble, never gathers the ball until after the step back. He hesitated on his right leg to try and throw the defender off a bit. it’s a slow hesitate yes but it’s perfectly legal. Paul Pierce does this all the time. No matter how slow you go as long as its all in one motion it’s legal. Not a travel

    As for lebron that was a foul and did deserve that. It was a call you don’t usually make but they did. They need to stop with the small fouls and just let them play. And Joey Crawford needs to retire!

  24. bknowledge - May 29, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    1) Lebron stepped on Lance Stephenson’s foot. Was it accidental? Probably, but, it caused lance to trip…so..its a foul. If it had just been a slight bump, I would have hated to see it called a foul. But, he stepped on the guys foot and that made Lance trip…so…its hard to argue. Watch the video.

    2) Looks to me like Wade travels twice on the play…first time is clearly a travel…proof…Wade takes 2 steps when he receives the pass, sets, then pump fakes and before beginning his dribble, he steps back with his right foot (3rd step after receiving a pass). That’s the first travel.

    Then, after gathering the dribble his left foot drags on the ground as it comes forward (step 1), then the left foot steps back behind the 3 point line (step 2), then the right foot back behind the 3 point line (step 3). That’s the second travel.
    The second travel is more debatable…because is the left foot touching the ground as it moves forward? Looks that way to me…but maybe there is better video…

  25. bknowledge - May 29, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    “The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after gaining control of the ball.”

    His left foot is touching the ground after he gathers (first step), then he steps back with the left foot (second step), then he steps back with the right foot (third step).

    The fist step occurs when a foot is touching the floor after gathering. The first step doesn’t occur after he raises and takes a step…

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