- James Harden’s step-back move sparks near-constant debate about what constitutes a travel in today’s NBA, but the reigning NBA MVP took his signature move to a new level Monday night against the Utah Jazz.
- Harden got away with a blatant travel on a double-step-back and managed to draw a questionable foul from Utah’s Ricky Rubio.
- The call sent Harden to the line with 54.6 seconds on the clock and the Jazz trailing by three and may have tipped the game in favour of Harden’s Houston Rockets.
- Harden didn’t deny that the referees missed the call on the play and gave a funny response to reporters when they called him out during after the game.
James Harden’s stacked stat sheet against the Utah Jazz Monday night included 47 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and one blatant travel.
With 54.6 seconds on the clock and the Jazz trailing by three, Harden attempted to force separation from Rubio with his signature step-back but took three extra steps after picking up his dribble.
Harden didn’t deny that the referees missed the call when he was asked about the sequence after the game, but he had a very funny follow-up for reporters when they called him out.
“What do you want me to say?” Harden quipped. “Tell on myself?”
On the replay, it looks as though Rubio may have grazed the outside of Harden’s left arm, but the travel clearly came first.
"It looked like he did two step backs." ???? pic.twitter.com/k0V0AQLStB
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 18, 2018
Had the referees made the proper call, Utah would have received possession on the turnover with a chance to tie the game or cut Houston’s lead to one point. Instead, Harden drained two of his three free throws and iced the game for the Rockets.
For his part, Rubio obviously did not agree with the initial no-call on the play:
— ESPN5 (@Sports5PH) December 18, 2018
The rest of the internet clearly agreed with Rubio on this one. NBA Twitter had a field day reacting to the play, especially considering Harden already has a reputation for bending the rules and receiving favourable treatment from referees across the league.
???? James Harden was doing an impersonation of @BdotAdot5 doing an impersonation of James Harden!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 18, 2018
New leaked footage of Westbrook, adding a new move to his arsenal, after watching the James Harden step back. pic.twitter.com/OKXvJ5lm2G
— ツ David ???????? (@Trickyy16) December 18, 2018
Even Isaiah Thomas weighed in:
Come on cuz lol… There letting that happen now? Lol I’m really bout to be unguardable https://t.co/hMM7tYJaKT
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) December 18, 2018
And so did this guy, who was clearly heated that Harden took down his beloved Jazz:
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