There is no single call in basketball more instinctive than the travel. While based in explicit rule, traveling violations are often prompted on the basis of a play's peculiarity; there is an established and familiar rhythm to the way that ball handlers move legally around the court, and any deviation from that rhythm tends to create an instant response in game officials, opposing players and those fans hanging on every possession.
Jeremy Lin was the subject of one such play on Sunday night -- a transition opportunity in which Lin's quick-stepping drive seemed to defy the league's rules in the most obvious fashion possible. No traveling call was made, though, nor should one have been. Let's go to the tape:
For reference, here is the full text of the relevant passage from the NBA's 2013-14 official rules (Rule 10, Section XIII, item b):
"A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing must release the ball to start his dribble before his second step.
The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after gaining control of the ball."
This is a particularly interesting case in that Lin's move sparked no reaction at all from those with the benefit of a better angle. The officials, most notably, let Lin play on. The Blazers themselves went about a defensive possession as normal. Even the fans in attendance at the Moda Center, a home crowd renowned for its fervor, weren't called to the slightest outrage. That's all because they could plainly see what those watching the broadcast could not: The single dribble that makes Lin's slash to the basket legal. It's another bit of movement amid Lin's flurry of strides, but the timing of the subsequent gather satisfies both the rulebook's stipulations and their current interpretation. With that, what seemed to be an unmistakable travel on first watch turned out to be a mere trick of timing and perspective. H/T on the play in question: Steve McPherson