On NBA Defense (Is There Such a Thing?), and on the (Should-Be-Illegal/Are-Illegal-For-SOME) Moves Some Offensive Players Use to Thwart It
By Ken K. Gourdin
Rudy Gobert, (Should-be-All-Star) center for the National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz, is putting up career numbers this year, both offensively and defensively. Alas, many consider defense—especially in the NBA—to be passe. (Among other reasons, that’s why Mr. Gobert didn’t make this year’s All-Star Team).
And then there are the (Should-Be-Illegal)* moves which offensive players employ to thwart the defensive efforts of stellar defenders such as Mr. Gobert, as I pointed out in response to a feature on Mr. Gobert’s defensive prowess in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News.
See the News’s feature here (this and other links last accessed March 29, 2019): https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900055107/jazz-center-rudy-gobert-among-nbas-last-of-a-dying-breed-that-values-defense-not-just-highlights.html. For a GIF (short video clip) of James Harden’s double-stepback/travel against the Utah Jazz’s Ricky Rubio, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ5dWY-Ut_4
From the article: “In an era where . . . Houston’s James Harden has turned his step-back into a thing of beauty, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is one of the few who continues to receive lump sums of money for his work on defense.”
James Harden has a wicked [illegal] double-stepback move. Mere mortals, even NBA mortals, would be called for traveling if they did the same thing, but Mr. Harden is no mere mortal. (Or perhaps according to NBA rules (unique in all of basketball), it’s only traveling if a player is moving forward.) And if the double-stepback doesn’t work (since it isn’t traveling when he does it) he also has a wicked triple-stepback move. (That’s not traveling, either.) And if, by chance, Mr. Gobert, with his 7’9″ wingspan and his 9’7″ standing reach, presents a danger of blocking Mr. Harden’s shot, Mr. Harden can always break out his wicked quadruple-stepback move. (Remember, it’s not traveling when he does it.) And if that doesn’t work … I predict that, eventually, we’ll see Mr. Harden attempt a shot from midcourt after executing a wicked sextuple-stepback move to successfully evade the blocked-shot threat Mr. Gobert poses.