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They Always Walk the Walk in NBA

June 23, 2005|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

During a key stretch in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Detroit's Richard Hamilton each made baskets -- Duncan using a baseline spin move around Rasheed Wallace and Hamilton knocking down a fade-away shot from the corner over Bruce Bowen.

Both were highlight-type plays ... that should not have counted because both players traveled with the basketball before making their shots.

"I have a real problem with that part of the game," Hall of Famer Rick Barry said. "Let's call the rules like they should be called. Carrying the ball and traveling have become a joke."

Over the years, great players getting away with moves without being called for traveling has become something of an NBA tradition. Toward the end of their careers, big men such as Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Patrick Ewing and Robert Parish made it an art form, and three-point specialist Reggie Miller certainly benefited from a few baby steps.

Through it all, the traveling rule has not changed. It's a violation when a ballhandler drags or moves the pivot foot, or takes more than two steps without dribbling or shooting.

What has changed is the use of the jump stop as an offensive move. A cross between a triple jump and gymnastic vault, the jump stop has enabled some of the league's brightest stars to make it difficult for officials to determine when one move stops and another begins.

"It's ludicrous with how guys change their pivot foot," said Barry, who scored more than 25,000 points and averaged more than 30 points in four seasons. "I just wish they called that more.

"It's one thing to take away hand-checking, because I've always been a big proponent of the fact that the more physical you allow the game to become the less skilled you have to be as a player in order to play. But hand-checking and walking are two different things."

Hall of Fame point guard Nate "Tiny" Archibald, part of the NBA Legends Tour traveling to playoff game sites this month, said the league has always made minor adjustments to rule interpretations, but today's players are just different.

"People always talk about the rules, however, it's the players who change the game," Archibald said. "They are more athletic and talented than ever before. ...

"Unfortunately, you have more and more younger players coming out trying to join the NBA without a solid foundation of the players of old," said Archibald, who in 1972-73 became the only player to lead the league in scoring and assists.

" ... Players of today are getting publicity and exposure. You see games from all over the world all of the time.

"But where television has helped create more talented and athletic players, it's also the reason why they lack fundamentals like we had."

Barry's solution? Getting basketball experts to talk about the violations instead of turning a blind eye to them.

"I don't know why guys are afraid to talk about those things because there are so many plays that have taken place when the guy traveled," Barry said. "It's better to try and start enforcing them now, because before long the next crop will believe that those moves are legal."

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