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NBA Ref Explains Why The James Harden Step Back Isn’t Traveling

The James Harden Step Back doesn’t always get called a travel by NBA referees. Zach Zarba, a 15-year NBA referee, is here to weigh in on whether or not the move is a travel. He takes a hint from when the ball is gathered.

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Following is a transcript of the video:

Zach Zarba: My name is Zach Zarba and I’m a 15-year NBA referee.

Some players have a controversial step-back jumper. They drive hard, then step back to create space and shoot. James Harden’s is particularly controversial because he takes several steps back instead of just one hop.

Zarba: One of the huge misconceptions in the NBA is how much our players practice. These player practice these moves over and over and over again. And there are subtle differences in the traveling violation in the NBA vs. high school and college. So I would ask people to look at when the ball is gathered. Okay, if you look at when the ball is gathered, that pivot foot is not the first step. That is the zero step. So, after that pivot foot, when they step back into a 1, 2, that in the NBA is a legal two-step.

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