James Harden Step Back: Travel or Not?

James Harden

James Harden introduced a new way to look at the step back. It’s beginning to take over basketball with players all over the world using the move. However, we still don’t all agree if it’s legal or not.

Harden’s version is not your quintessential step back. The typical step back is usually performed with the ball handler taking his last dribble simultaneously with his planted foot as he steps back.

However, when Harden performs the move, he takes his step back mid gather. He likes to do a pull-back dribble and step back before he picks up the ball with his second hand. It looks questionable because he takes an extra step in the move. As I mentioned before, the typical step back occurs with the dribble and the plant happening simultaneously whereas Harden’s step back occurs with the dribble, plant then step back.

Controversy continues to surround this move. All of the social media referees have come out and even the referees don’t know how to call it.

Last night during a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings, Stephen Curry did the Harden step back and got called for a travel.

He followed up the move by throwing up a 13 on his jersey implying that Harden gets away with the move all of the time. In a postgame interview, he explained his thoughts on the move and the call.

The reigning MVP his constantly pushing the boundaries. He’s making people think and try new things which are great. However, the league has to decide whether the move is clean or not. It’s an effective move and Harden gets a lot of buckets from it but one way or another a decision has to be made. There are a number of kids practicing this move now.


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