The NBA referees official Twitter account again took up for James Harden when they declared that they called a travelling violation against him incorrectly.
As Harden enters the top of the key, he begins the gather off his right foot, takes his two steps, and then lays it for a possible and-one opportunity. Though he does take longer strides than usual without implementing a euro-step, this is a very common move by Harden and other elite-level players who use the gather rule to their advantage.
It seemingly would have gone by the wayside, probably never addressed again except by a few confused fans, but a veteran NBA reporter lent his voice on this play.
@OfficialNBARefs...help me out on this. Looks like Harden gathers..then takes his 2 steps..didn’t look like a travel to me. Keep up the great work and see y’all Wednesday night.. Thanks pic.twitter.com/OG1bH4IJGi— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) October 21, 2019
The refs responded to him promptly.
He gathers with his right foot on the floor, then takes a step with his left and then right, for two steps after the gather. You're right Mark, traveling should not have been called. Appreciate hearing from one of the most informed media members! See you in the regular season. 1/ https://t.co/dTGVLajOb2— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) October 21, 2019
Here we see two great things transpire.
1. The referees continue to use their social media platform to address any questions and clear up any rules that may seem inconsistently called or straight-up confusing. It also creates a sense of accountability, as these ref’s colleagues are just blowing up their spot on the internet for everyone to see.
2. A respected NBA journalist uses his platform to ask important questions that fans, and most likely himself, are looking for answers to. He also asks nicely and ends his question with a compliment — that’s just great leadership training at work. Maybe we should start using our platform for this purpose?
While this single call does seem rather innocuous and simply one of those bad calls that will happen throughout the season — no one is perfect — this might be something to look out for in the upcoming months. Referees tend to crack down in the early part of the season to accommodate what players and coaching were pining for in the offseason — just look at all these new challenging abilities popping across different leagues. Are the refs possibly looking to crackdown on Harden or even the gather step? Or maybe it was just one bad call. We’ll see.
In the meantime, it’s really great to see that the referees are keeping a open dialogue around the league, and they’re still proving to be some of the least stubborn refs in major sports. That’s probably not saying much, though.