By Rob Mahoney
In the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Toronto Raptors, Manu Ginobili used a little sleight of hand to get by DeMar DeRozan in the open court. Seemingly trapped against the sideline, Ginobili tossed his dribble through DeRozan's legs, darted around the Raptor guard, and went on his way to earn an and-one finish off of a Kyle Lowry blocking foul. It was a fabulous play, and emblematic of the kind of creativity that makes Ginobili such a treasure.
There was just one tiny little problem: Ginobili's sly ball-handling was apparently so effective that it duped NBA official Leroy Richardson out of calling a pretty clear violation. With DeRozan standing a mere foot and a half from the sideline, Ginobili's only path around him was to violate the court's side boundary. That in itself isn't a violation, but reclaiming one's dribble after going out of bounds certainly is. The NBA's 2011-12 Case Book actually outlines just such a scenario as a rule clarification:
When dribbling, Player A1 steps out-of-bounds but is not in contact with the ball. He then returns inbounds and continues his dribble. Is this legal or illegal?
Illegal. Player A1 cannot be the first player to touch the ball after going out-of-bounds, until it is touched by another player on the court.
RULE 10 - SECTION II - b
Not even much room for debate here; this is as cut and dry as it gets, with the NBA offering a very clear precedent on this exact kind of play. That said, there's still enough uncertainty (among fans, and apparently among referees) to pull off such a move at full speed mid-game, provided that there isn't time for the game's officials to deliberation. So kudos, Manu -- you got away with this one, and netted a hell of a highlight in the process.