Bradley Beal got away with a comically ridiculous traveling violation against the Detroit Pistons on Monday evening.
The no-call didn’t decide the game by any stretch, as the Wizards lost to the Pistons by nine points, but in the aftermath of the video going viral, Beal himself leaned into the bit by poking fun at the absence of a whistle.
Everyone in the basketball world agreed that the call was simply missed and, in the same breath, people would’ve quickly moved on from the hilarity. On cue, the official Twitter account of NBA referees stepped in to keep the non-story alive, insisting that what Beal did was… actually legal?
First, this defies all logic. Beal was able to navigate an unfathomable distance without using a single dribble and he wasn’t forced to do so by anything that a defender did. In unison, everyone that saw this play happen had the same reaction, from casual fans to die-hards, and regular viewing of basketball (at any level) would dictate that this is a traveling violation.
Second, the referee’s interpretation here might be correct but, if it is, where does it end? Can James Harden intentionally “lose control” of the ball and take 5 steps in reverse for his famous step-back jumper? Can LeBron James go end to end without a single dribble by simply batting the ball to himself as he runs? What is to stop an NBA player from mastering the ability to take advantage of this rule and put opposing defenses in compromising positions on a regular basis?
Obviously, it isn’t likely that any player is going to flat-out expose this apparent hiccup in the rules and make a mockery of the game. With that said, the notion that NBA referees felt the need to jump in with an explanation here (even if they strongly believe their brethren on the court got this one right) is silly from the outset. Refereeing is an extremely difficult and thankless job, with criticism constantly coming their way, often times wrongfully so. Understanding that, this isn’t the one to dig your heels in and defend because you only seem to open up more problems along the way.
If nothing else, the basketball-viewing public just learned that there is a problem in the rule book on an issue that didn’t need to be raised… by anyone.