James Harden has been placing pressure on referees and the rule book for the past couple of years. He’s been revolutionizing the game by changing the way we look at dribble combination moves and how we judge them. Harden’s infamous step-back has initiated so much discussion, in particular bringing up questions of traveling which sparked the league to add more clarification and detail in the rule book.
While the rule did not change, more clarification was added with an explanation on what exactly defines a “gather”:
The following definition of the gather will be added to the definitions section of the playing rules:
1.For a player who receives a pass or gains possession of a loose ball, the gather is defined as the point where the player gains enough control of the ball to hold it, change hands, pass, shoot, or cradle it against his body.
2. For a player who is in control of the ball while dribbling, the gather is defined as the point where a player does any one of the following:
(1) Puts two hands on the ball, or otherwise permits the ball to come to rest, while he is in control of it;
(2) Puts a hand under the ball and brings it to a pause; or
(3) Otherwise gains enough control of the ball to hold it, change hands, pass, shoot, or cradle it against his body.
Harden has been executing this move for the past two seasons and defenses have had a hard time putting a stop to it. With it being somewhat indefensible, we’ve seen a lot of players incorporating it in their own games, starting at the youth level all the way up the chain. However, the problem has been refereeing consistently.
Stephen Curry gave his attempt to the Harden step-back last season in which the referee ultimately whistled him for a travel. He sarcastically responded by throwing up a “13” on his chest referencing Harden himself.
With this new clarification in the rule book, this should make it easier for referees while also putting the Twitter refs to rest. This rule also puts a lot of pressure on the defense because it makes the player with the ball that much harder to defend.
In today’s game, we’re seeing a lot of players get more creative and shifty with their ball-handling. Now, with a clear understanding of what can be done, I expect players to push the boundaries with more new and improved moves. This rule update could open the flood gates for a lot more to come. Harden already warned us about his one-legged shot so who knows what else is on the way.