If you tried this move in a high-school game 10 years ago, you would have been called for traveling.
In today’s NBA, as the rules are interpreted, James Harden‘s step back is not a travel.
At an event on Friday, a young fan tried to call Harden out on the travel and he defended himself. Via Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Harden’s stepback is not a travel (when he executes it properly). Even if it looks like it is.
Here is the play in question.
The official response — meaning from officials:
I know when you played Junior High basketball in 2002 that was a travel, but the NBA hasn’t called it that way in years.
The NBA rule here (Rule 10, Section XIII) simplified is a “gather and two steps.” Meaning one step while Harden is gathering the ball, plus two more. Nobody pushes the boundary of the gather step like Harden, he has mastered the grey area. But when he executes it properly — and he doesn’t every time — it’s not a travel.
No matter what that young boy’s father tells him.