Sometimes Wrong Is Just Wrong

February 18th, 2017

As a parent, we always have to be on the lookout for “teaching moments.” The sports world usually offers many such opportunities. The most recent example is the case of Charles Oakley – what he did, how he was treated and how he reacted.

If you don’t know the back story of Oakley, you’ve probably tripped up and landed on this blog by mistake but, to sum it up, Oakley was a very good NBA player for, among others, the New York Knicks. Not a superstar, a la Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson or Bernard King, but a guy who brought it every game and earned his money, something that fans appreciate.

James Dolan, Knicks owner, has seemed to have done all in his power to destroy this proud franchise, making one awful move after another. Although I’m not sure which is which, the relationship between Oakley and Dolan is like that of oil and water. The facts are a little muddled but at a recent Knicks’ contest, Oakley may or may not have been drinking, may or may not have been spewing nasty comments to his former boss but, what is known is that he was asked to leave the Garden. He did not, however, leave peacefully, rather he confronted security and got into shoving matches with those attempting to do their jobs.

Fans have been overwhelming pro-Oakley in this situation, some because they love their Oak, some because they despise Dolan, many because of both. Whichever side you belong to, one thing is necessary for this discussion. Regardless of Dolan’s ineptness or fan reaction, Oakley’s actions that night were wrong.

About a week earlier, DeMarcus Cousins got a technical foul with 1.1 seconds to go. It was his 16th of the season, meaning he was suspended for the next one (and pay a fine of $4K but that means little for a guy making so much that the suspension will cost him $154,000, or 1/82nd of his salary). The game was lost. He couldn’t control his emotions one more second? So the people who shelled out dough for the next game are deprived of catching him in action because of a hissy fit.

Fans of Cousins, e.g. those who like unstoppable low post players who can play beyond the three-point line and also protect the rim at the other end, claim referees are against the big fella. After watching Cousins pick up his 17th T, they might have a point as replays showed it was nothing more than a flop. When asked about it postgame, Cousins’ reaction was, “It’s obvious I can’t be myself. Me playing how I play is what makes me the player that I am. Obviously it’s not acceptable, so I’m trying to find a way to, you know, do what these guys are asking me to do. It’s not easy, but I’m trying to find a way.”

True to a point but the “Me playing how I play is what makes me the player that I am” comment shows the lack of maturity his critics have leveled at him since his career began. The axis of “right” goes through the top of Boogie’s head and out the other end. His world revolves around him, not unlike many folks. Whatever his beliefs, though, they don’t give him the right to be a boor.

In another basketball related incident, broadcaster Dan Dakich, known for – and proud of – his controversial commentary, stepped over the line while working the Michigan State-Ohio State game, calling the Spartans’ fans whiners and making the comment that one kid attends MSU because he couldn’t get into Michigan.

Funny line. I used to hear similar comments. When I worked at USC there would be signs at our home games against UCLA which said, “My maid went to UCLA.” Ha. Freedom of speech, right? So what’s the difference between that sign and what Dakich said? First and foremost, the signs are made by fans while he’s a professional, paid broadcaster who is on the air.

Next, Dakich’s son is a member of the Michigan basketball team (as a redshirt), making his tweet that much more inappropriate. Making the twitter war look worse for Dakich was the fact he deleted the tweet but, naturally, not until after somebody took a screen shot of it – so it lives forever. Dakich, enjoying his new career as enfant terrible, has been milking the situation, refusing any type of apology. He’s using what he created to his advantage, becoming somewhat of a role model for those who look up to him, similar to the way Jim Rome spawned a band of “shock jocks” in the sports world. It’s a way to be someone, for the first time as Rome and his minions are, or reinvent himself as Dakich, whose playing and coaching careers are over, is doing.

Not so great for parents who might have had higher hopes for their children. “Fame” is something people (not all let’s be clear) want desperately to acquire. Yet rude or barbaric behavior shouldn’t be acceptable, whether the person believes it’s necessary or that the end justifies the means.

What much of this reminds me of is the line that’s become part of our culture – and upsets me to no end:

“He was speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment.”

February 13th, 2017

During my stay at one of the (nine) universities I worked for, in addition to being on the school’s basketball staff, I was a member of the athletics director’s executive counsel (a group of around a dozen administrators from the department). We’d meet every Tuesday morning from 8:30-10:30 am. As I’ve stated many times previously – on this blogspace and in many conversations – my idea of a meeting clashed somewhat with that of the typical (or at least these) administrators.

During one meeting, I mentioned that I realized there was a difference between coaches and administrators. It was a meeting in which an idea was brought up and the discussion turned to trying to think of every negative impact it might have (mostly from a political correctness standpoint). It got so that minutiae was being talked about for at least an hour. I finally said if we thought it was a good idea and it would help solve a problem, sooner or later it was time to act. I was shouted down.

In a future meeting I recalled how my criticism toward their “lack of action” was received, so I decided to muffle my opinion this time. The looks I received in previous meetings were of a sympathetic ilk, their message conveying, “that’s the difference between coaches and the higher level of administration, i.e. the important decision-makers.” It was quite apparent that they believed that, “coaches were way too impatient, too quick to pull the trigger and, consequently, that’s why so many mistakes were made.” I could understand their feelings. Anybody who’s ever watched (and second-guessed) a coach could see that.

At the end of this particular seesion, surprise! we hadn’t finished. The athletics director asked each of us to see when we had a half hour available to wrap it up. One associate AD looked at his calendar and (proudly) said, “I have 26 meetings this week,” to which I responded simply:

Wow, when do you ever do anything?”

Weighing in on the Charles Oakley Incident

February 12th, 2017

By now every NBA fan, and many others who probably don’t give a flip about the Association, have seen the video(s) of Charles Oakley being escorted by a plethora of Madison Square Garden security members. No one really knows exactly what was, or wasn’t, said by Oak – or to whom he directed those comments.

It was a sad situation, seeing one of the warriors (small w) of some of the best teams that represented the proud franchise which is down – and trending lower. Possibly Probably Most definitely, because I’m a Jersey guy who vividly remembers the championship clubs, as well as those that battled fiercely but came up oh-so-close, I side with the New York fans who are fed up with the seemingly rudderless ship that is now the Knicks.

However, I can’t for the life of me understand how fans and former players can feel Oakley is in the right in this incident. He claims he didn’t say anything of a derogatory nature and couldn’t understand why security guards confronted him, although he has admitted to handling the situation poorly. Was it some kind of conspiracy that brought the cops to him?

Look, this whole ordeal is getting entirely too much play, mainly because it happened in the Garden. Add in the hopeless case that is the New York franchise, both current and future, and irrational behavior becomes the norm. To sum up the whole matter, look no farther than former Jeff Van Gundy for guidance.

Van Gundy wasn’t referring to this current mess when he issued the following statement but Oakley should still take it to heart:

“When you know better and don’t do better, you’re no better.”

UK Fans Have Been Known to Be a Little Much, But This Guy Tops Them All

February 9th, 2017

In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Kentucky Wildcat fans are upset. After all, following an embarrassing blowout in Gainesville, their beloved hoops team had lost three of their previous four games (they bounced back with a convincing win over LSU). Let’s review UK’s inexcusable three losses during that time.

The last one was at Florida, against a team that had one of those days where they couldn’t miss. Of course, the arena was packed, loud and somewhat intimidating, i.e. a normal road game for UK. The second L was delivered by Kansas, at the time the #2 ranked team in the country. Second? So what? Wildcat fans don’t care who’s second because they’re supposed to be #1. Always. The game that was unpardonable was the first one of that “streak” – at Tennessee. Granted, the ‘Cats were heavy favorites. Could they have been looking ahead to the KU tilt? Well, let me tell you a little about the UK-UT rivalry.

I was an assistant at Tennessee for seven years (1980-87). During that time we beat them six out of seven times (in Knoxville). The game we lost was by two. After a time out, with seconds to go, we inbounded the ball and had a man-to-man play all set for our leading scorer (who happened to be the leading scorer in the SEC). Our point guard crossed half court, saw UK in a zone defense and we turned it over. For the record it was the only possession of man-to-man defense Eddie Sutton, Kentucky’s head coach, played all year!

Oh yeah, we were 0-7 against them in Lexington. One year we beat them by 17 – which was their biggest loss of the season. A month later they shellacked us by 25 – the biggest loss of ours. And there have been other cases of undermanned Vol teams beating the ‘Cats (in Knoxville) throughout the years.

Excuse me for the walk down memory lane – although I know Kentucky fans won’t. They are the most passionate and loyal, but far and away, the most entitled, group of supporters in the country. For exhibit A, I give you UK fan Patrick Stidham who, the day after the Florida beat down, posted this comment:

I love my Wildcats (fan since 1978), BUT, we might just have another “Tubby Smith” on our hands (“one and done”). Calipari is a “good” Coach and a great Recruiter, but, that’s about it. He seems to value players getting to the NBA over winning Championships. Sorry to tell him this, but, that is NOT what we want at Kentucky!!!

Let’s examine this fool’s post. Next to UCLA, the college with the most titles is Kentucky with eight. The coach for the first four of those was Adolph Rupp. During his first two championship runs (1948, 1949), the entire NCAA field was composed of eight teams, meaning the champion had to win only three games. In order to capture their next two trophies (1951, 1958), the ‘Cats had to win four games, the tourney expanding to 16, then to 24 entrants (they received a first round bye in ’58).

Notice from his post, super (critical) fan, Patrick, has been a fan since 1978 – the year UK won its fifth national championship which (a 48-team field, UK getting a bye once again). Their coach was Joe B. Hall who worked for the Wildcats for 13 years. 1978 was his, in Patrick’s words, “one and done” season.

Another Kentucky “one and done” national championship coach was Rick Pitino (although he’s also won one leading UK’s rival, Louisville to the title). Pitino spent eight years as the ‘Cats leader and managed to get the to the Final Four on three occasions – but only won it in 1996, Kentucky’s sixth title.

During UK’s seventh national championship the head man was none other than Patrick’s object of scorn Tubby Smith – a man considered by everybody who truly knows him (I’m proud to be in that group) as one of the classiest coaches ever to walk a sideline. In his 10 seasons in Lexington he was named National Coach of the Year.

Which brings us to our ” ‘good’ Coach and a great Recruiter, but, that’s about it” current head Wildcat coach, John Calipari. While Cal did manage to win a national championship for Patrick and the UK faithful, it was for heaven’s sake. Meanwhile, “he seems to value players getting to the NBA over winning Championships.” For the record Calipari, in his seven years prior to the current one, has led his team to the Final Four on four occasions.

This blog is plenty long enough but, if you’d like further proof of Patrick Stidham’s lunacy, compare Calipari’s overall record, e.g. total wins, winning percentage, league championships, etc. against any coach Kentucky has ever had.

It seems like the only two solutions to this issue is to:

“Either allow Patrick Stidham to select UK’s next coach or have ol’ Patrick coach the squad himself.”

If It Weren’t for His Enablers, DeMarcus Cousins Would Be His Own Worst Enemy

February 7th, 2017

The center position in the NBA has morphed into an entirely different animal. Gone are the days when two dinosaurs would slug it out on the block. Today’s best big guys still play with their backs to the basket (some) but need to be able to step out, stretch a defense, set screens (pick & roll is the new style of basketball – pretty much at every level of the game) and either roll or, and this is a skill fans never got to see Wilt, Russell, Kareem or Walton do, pop out for a jump shot. Sometimes a three-pointer. That strategy is so prevalent some teams are eschewing the traditional center and playing with a combination of two guards and three forwards or three guards and two forwards. And since those offensive skills are necessary, it’s also mandatory for “centers” to be able to defend that type of player.

The guy who best fills out the above description is the Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins. He has the strength of the best pivot men of the 20th century, the low post game of Hall of Famers, yet can play away from the basket, shoot from beyond the three-point line, put the ball on the floor – and has the ability to guard inside and out as well.

That’s the reason there are constantly rumors of a trade. An all-star center whose team is struggling is going to peak interest in other clubs who dream about what a player like that could do for their franchise. Yet there hasn’t been a trade. General Manager Vlade Divac, who was one of the hybrid centers back in his playing days for has been quoted on numerous occasions, most recently yesterday, saying, “We’re not trading DeMarcus. We hope he’s here for a long time. We are going in that direction.”

Without dancing around the subject, the real reason no trade has gone down is because the seven-year NBA veteran Cousins is basically a 26-year-old superstar with the talent to lead a ball club to a championship, maybe multiple championships, but one who possesses the maturity of an eight-year-old. In 51 games, Cousins is averaging 27.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. If the Kings could receive anything resembling fair market value for their big guy/problem child, they’d be throwing a “re-branding” party before the ink on the deal was dry.

At the 2015 Hall of Fame induction show John Calipari was the final person recognized. He had every one of his former players in attendance and asked all of them to join him onstage. With scores of players behind him, he asked them, as he looked out over the audience, “Raise your hand if you think I held your game back?”

I happened to be at the show (my former Washington State and USC boss, George Raveling was also in the HOF class) but can’t remember how many former Calipari players had their hands up. It was because Cousins was making a spectacle of himself, smiling and frantically waving his. At that moment, Cal dropped the punchline. “I don’t know how many hands are up but I can guarantee you DeMarcus Cousins is raising both of his.” It made for a good laugh for everyone but spoke volumes about what is must have been like to coach an 18-year-old DeMarcus. Had the one-and-done rule not been in effect, Cal would have started petition for one.

Last night against the Bulls, the Kings were down by as many as 27 but came back and made the game a nail-biter. Down two, with about 12 seconds left, Sacramento ran a side out of bounds play in which the ball was to be inbounded to Cousins. Replays showed that Dwyane Wade did, in fact, grab Cousins’ jersey as he stepped in front of him, stole the pass, dribbled down and dunked to secure the victory. With seven seconds left, the Kings’ big man shot a three-pointer, attempting to draw a foul. The shot went awry, no foul was called, the Bulls controlled the ball and the Kings fouled. 1.1 seconds remained.

Cousins was so upset about the no call on the side out play that he turned and displayed so much disdain toward the referee, no one in the building, including DeMarcus himself, was shocked another tech, his second of the game, meaning automatic ejection. What does that matter, you say – there was only 1.1 seconds left and the game was essentially over anyway.

Because it was also his 16th technical foul of the season. Forget the fine – he makes 17 mil a year. According to NBA rules, that magic number means his irresponsible behavior he’ll be suspended for Wednesday night’s game against Boston. At least season ticket holders will get to see Isaiah Thomas play.

While the Kings’ announcers were critical of Cousins’ behavior, “It’s the inability of him to control his temper” and, after viewing the replay, “you can’t do this” in reference his reaction toward the official with one tick left. In between those admonishments, most likely because they know who signs their paychecks, was the phrase, “He thought there should have been a foul, that Dwyane Wade held his jersey and I agree, DeMarcus is 100% correct, but …” DeMarcus needs more of what follows the “but” and less of how “right” he is.

When Cousins was asked about his techs? “It’s kind of unfortunate that it happened. I really don’t know what to say about it. If I say something I’ll get punished, and if I don’t say something I’ll get punished. I really don’t know what the answer is anymore. I’m highly disappointed in what just happened.”

It’s highly doubtful anyone who knows him is surprised at his response. He’s a guy who’s been enabled for so long, he believes he’s … right. All the time.

He’d possibly considered an all-time great if he’d take to heart some great advice that, apparently, no one as of yet has told him:

“Grow up.”

 

The Best Story of the Wildest Super Bowl

February 6th, 2017

The coverage of every Super Bowl is exhaustive. This year’s was no different.

First was Deflategate – which, I believe, would have been a two week story had Brady admitted to telling his guy to let some air out & it just happened he took out a little too much. If you’ll remember (and it takes quite a memory now), no quarterback, past or current, thought it was a big deal – that every QB likes the ball at a certain pressure. If Brady said it was miscommunication or … whatever, he probably would have gotten a slap on the wrist – maybe a little more because it was Brady & the Patriots – but definitely less than a four game suspension.

A couple other story lines outside the game itself were Brady’s mother fighting cancer, having gone through chemo, yet showing up at the game and former President George H.W. Bush being wheeled on the field also after recently being released from the hospital.

Game stories including 25-year-old James White, a fourth round pick from Wisconsin, rushing 6 times for 29 yards, catching a SB record 14 passes for 110 yards and accounting for 20 points on two rushing TDs, one TD reception and a two-point conversion – stats good enough for MVP honors, except for Tom Brady having the game, er, second half + OT of every QB’s dream. Or the fact this was the first ever Super Bowl decided in overtime. Or that New England ran more than twice the number of plays Atlanta did (93-46). Or the second guessing of Atlanta’s play calling in the fourth quarter.

How about the debate regarding who the greatest QB ever is among Brady, Terry Bradshaw or Joe Montana or the one about who the greatest coach ever is among Belichick, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll or Bill Walsh? Even taking into account the emotion of the moment, it seems as though each debate is now put to rest.

Many will claim the Pates coming back from a 25-point deficit tops all stories and, for the football purist, it certainly was but, for my weird mind, Deion Sanders stole the show with his pregame anecdote discussing the distractions surrounding the players involved in the Super Bowl.

It’s the last game – for everything. Win, and the season was the ultimate success. Lose, and no matter how many preseason goals were set – and accomplished – nothing seems to matter, at least at the time. Asked to talk about the distractions a player has to deal with, Prime Time talked about what has been discussed so many times – tickets. He related his first time participating in a Super Bowl.

First he brought up his siblings which he told the national audience numbered in double figures. Then he talked about others and running around, scrounging up as many tickets as he needed, only then could he get back to his team and prepare for the biggest game of his career. Following the game, the first of two SB victories for him, Neon asked his family members about a couple of exciting plays in which he was involved. They all hesitated before answering.

He said, “Wait a minute. Were y’all even at the game?”

When he told of their response, it was almost as if he understood. They said to him, “Man, they were offering $3000 a ticket! We took the money and watched the game in a hotel room.”

“After all that work I put into getting them, my relatives scalped their tickets!”

 

Role Reversal Would Be Extremely Interesting

February 3rd, 2017

By now, everybody has heard of the rift between Charles Barkley and LeBron James. The summary of the situation is Barkley criticized James when the latter requested another player – a playmaker – in order to give the defending champs a better chance of retaining their crown.

Charles’ argument was that the Cavs have the NBA’s biggest payroll – by far. So much so that owner Dan Gilbert has already paid $54 million in luxury tax. His next comments had to do with the personnel they currently have, e.g. J.R. Smith & Iman Shumpert, two players LeBron wanted his boss to keep (some feel that Gilbert is the “boss” only because he signs the checks and is on the hook for any additional “purchases” the club makes). In addition, the front office recently added super shooter Kyle Korver. Barkley gave LBJ the ultimate compliment, calling him the best player in the world. His criticism dealt with LeBron’s unwillingness to compete.

Bron went personal with his response, bringing back many of the Chuckster’s career lowlights – of which there are certainly no shortage, e.g. throwing a fan through a restaurant window, spitting on another, having an unpaid debt in Vegas, … Phew! He concluded his remarks with, “Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.” All true but not directly addressing Barkley’s criticism.

Even those who don’t like Barkley have to admit the big fella has matured immensely since his playing days. His retort, “Clearly (LeBron) did some homework,” made many who knew Charles, the player, smile. He did follow up his admission of guilt, though, by still calling LeBron “whiny.”

What’s been left unsaid – at least I haven’t heard anyone say it – is what I find most intriguing. For anyone who remembers Barkley during his playing days, his attitude toward media criticism paralleled that of “today’s” LeBron, which begs the question:

“Wonder how NBA player Charles Barkley would have reacted to NBA commentator Charles Barkley?”

When Having It All Isn’t Enough

January 28th, 2017

LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. The skills he possesses – at his size – as well as how he affects nearly every game he plays, has a significant segment of NBA fans (although most of those are under the age of 30) saying he’s the best who has ever played the game. So to hear that he’s in the news isn’t shocking – except for why. James, after his guys lost six of eight games, not surprisingly was quoted as being highly critical of the Cavs’ front office.

After winning last year’s Larry O’Brien trophy, storming back from a 3-1 deficit and keeping the Golden State Warriors from going back-to-back, LeBron is letting everyone know that the Cavs don’t have all they need to be the team they ought to be. He expressed his displeasure saying the team needed to add a playmaker. Last year he told management to fire the coach (although he denied it). Well, they did – and then won it all.

What does management think of his comments? First of all, the Cavs have, by far, the highest payroll in the NBA, which cost owner Dan Gilbert a ton in luxury tax dough (proving LeBron is just like the rest of us – good at spending other people’s money). So it might not stun anyone to hear the front office’s response (keeping in mind they have to make sure nothing is said that can give LeBron reason to flee Cleveland again). “We believe in this team at a deep level, and we need to get better from within and play better, quite frankly,” GM David Griffin remarked. “We need to have a greater sense of urgency and start to develop a championship identity. I think it’s clear we have not been doing that.”

What do his teammates think of his remarks? One of them, Tristan Thompson, gave his assessment. “I just got to keep playing better. We got to keep playing harder. He’s right. We got to all play better. It’s simple,” said the Cavs big man. “This is the team we have right now. That’s how you got to approach the game. You can’t go out there hoping somebody is coming to walk through the door. Play with whoever the hell we got right now, and let’s win some [bleepin’] games.”

What does the media think? Not speaking for anyone but himself (to which many media members say, “Whew!”), Hall of Famer Charles Barkley chimed in, ripping LBJ. After mentioning the Cavs have a “Big Three” of their own with James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, Barkley launched into his own tirade. “They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted (Iman) Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. (LeBron) is the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t wanna compete?”

It’s probably not so much that “he don’t wanna compete” as it is he just wants better players to compete with – especially after their western rivals added Kevin Durant to their squad. Yet, with the exception of those squarely in his camp, many folks believe he has something in common with actor Peter Krause (who?) who famously said:

“At this point, I’m spoiled. I’ve actually had a really blessed career.”

What Can Be Done About the Snubbing of Russell Westbrook?

January 21st, 2017

People are incensed that Russell Westbrook is not starting in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game. I mean, the guy is, and has been, averaging a double-double for the season. How can that not translate into a starting spot? Are there really two better guards than Russ? Well, the guys voted ahead of him are James Harden and Steph Curry. Selecting only two of them forces people to trash one of the three when attempting to passionately defend their choice.

Could Obama have pardoned it? If it’s too late, can Trump step in? He needs to ingratiate himself to NBA players and this would be a nice start. But does this oversight really need a presidential decree?

The main reason, really the only reason, Westbrook isn’t a starter is that players were separated into two categories – guards and big guys. The starting five is composed of two guards and three bigs. Long ago, a basketball team was made up of two guards, two forwards and a center. It became more specialized when the position designations changed into a point guard (1), shooting guard (2), small forward (3), power forward (4) and center (5). Although coaches are considered copycats, there is always an innovator who changes things up and revolutionizes an aspect of the game – if his teams win.

What followed were the designations: a point, two wings and two posts. Then, Don Nelson, an innovator if there ever was one, blew everybody’s mind when he created the “point forward.” Bringing thoughts of Nellie back, a couple nights ago, Kenny Smith argued with Charles Barkley when Chuck said James Harden was a point guard. The Jet claimed that Harden was not a traditional point, but a “point two.” Or did he mean .2, introducing decimals as a hoops position? Or “point to” as in a player who gives direction?

The point, er, aim of this post is that the game has gone through so many “position changes” that, to avoid embarrassing issues such as not starting a guy who is one of the two leading candidates for MVP, why not have the top five vote getters (however the votes are weighted – fan, media, player) be the starters?

After all, why is it necessary to have designated groups for the voting when 1) it’s not mandatory the all-star coaches make certain there are two guards and three bigs on the floor the entire game and 2)

“The NBA All-Star Game is a joke anyway.”

Who Says Traveling Isn’t Called in the NBA?

January 20th, 2017

As many folks were, especially those of us on the west coast, I was watching the Warriors-Thunder game a couple nights ago. The NBA, as I’ve stated on numerous occasions, is composed of the best athletes in the world. In order to play in the league, everyone must be able to run, jump, dribble, pass, catch, rebound, defend and shoot. With people that skilled, it’s arguably the most difficult sport to officiate.

There was an incident during the game in which the ball was inbounded to Russell Westbrook and, facing no pressure from any defender, he turned and brought the ball up the floor. Only he forgot to dribble. The rule regarding traveling is that the player who receives the pass is allowed to take one step and, then, can lift his other foot but must either pass, shoot or dribble before that foot touches the floor (that explanation probably butchers the actual rule but you get the idea).

After Westbrook caught the ball and turned upcourt, he didn’t begin his dribble until his sixth step. It should have been an easy call if, for no other reason, than traveling is also referred to as “walking.” Anyone who’s seen the video – which has to have been viewed over a million times – can see that walking is exactly what the Thunder point guard was doing.

What’s funny is his action brought basketball full circle. When kids begin playing (4, 5, 6 years old), most of them, when they get the ball, start running around. During camp sessions it’s impossible to call every traveling violation, so usually, “referees” (mostly coaches and older players) won’t call it – or else nothing would ever get accomplished.

The thought that crossed my mind, after seeing the replays of it over and over was:

“Exactly how many steps was that NBA referee going to allow Westbrook to make before blowing his whistle?”

Apparently, the answer was six.