For some reason, many Europeans – especially Spanish players – complained a lot about the referees not calling the U.S. traveling.
In some way, I really do understand both sides. Traveling in the NBA and the United States is not called the same way as it is called in the Euroleague and Europe. It looks like both sides just do not know better and do not understand why the other is so upset. To defend the US continent, NCAA and FIBA rules are almost the same, while the NBA just has a few minor changes.
During my trip to the U.S. this past summer (yes, summer is almost over!), I followed the US team’s pre-Olympic games as well as the Olympics. Before every game, the commentators talked about the differences between FIBA and NBA rules, such as the size of the court and even the size of the ball, but they never explained the important thing: TRAVELING.
Time to bring some light into the darkness of those made/missing travel calls! (Watch out where you click to start the video – the middle button is advertising. To start the video, click the left corner)
Here are the essentials of FIBA and NBA rules for traveling:
The NBA/WNBA rule is a little more liberal than the current NCAA and FIBA rules when a player is coming to a stop. The NBA/WNBA rule is identical to the pre-1994 FIBA rule; in essence, once you have come to a legal stop, you always have a foot to pivot with. NCAA and current FIBA rules can leave a player without a pivot foot. As well, if you land with a staggered stop (i.e. one foot, then the other, with one foot clearly in front of the other), the back foot is the pivot foot in NBA/WNBA. In NCAA/FIBA, the first foot to touch is the pivot.
Sounds easy right?
Here comes the problem: Why did the referees not make these calls in Beijing? It is obvious that at the Olympics, the teams have to play with FIBA rules, and that TEAM USA HAD to travel just because they are used to different rules. When you play basketball every day, you are not thinking about your steps – you just know them – so Team USA really had to travel, just because they do it – according to FIBA rules, of course – every single day in NBA games.
In case you don’t believe me – just watch this video where we have proof of travel:
We know now, that Team USA did travel at least 5-10 times a game, but the referees did not call it, but would that have changed the outcome of the Olympics? I don’t think so.
Still, why did the referees not make those calls? Any referee in a 5th division team in Europe would have made the calls that you saw in the video. I just hope there wasn’t any “higher” influence.