Fans can't agree whether Harden has killer footwork or travels... you decide


According to USA Basketball, the “step back” is a “very difficult and low-percentage shot” outside of 15 feet that “should not be a staple of a player’s perimeter offense.”

With all due respect to USA Basketball, the step back has become the staple of Houston Rockets star James Harden’s perimeter game, and he proved that in Houston’s Game 1 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

A clip of Harden showing off his killer footwork to put poor Andrew Wiggins in the torture rack has gone viral. Theoretically, Wiggins has the athleticism and length to give Harden problems, but this video makes him appear to be helpless.

Harden eventually finishes him off with a very difficult and low-percentage step-back three-pointer.

Biden Drops to All-Time Low Approval Rating - Prominent Pollster Suggests Dropout 'Threshold' May Have Been Hit

To be fair, it appears as though Harden got away with an extra step to create additional space. After picking up his dribble, Harden stepped back and seemed to realize he was not behind the arc, so he took another step to ensure his shot would be a three-pointer.

Though many fans were impressed by Harden’s footwork, some Twitter users claimed he traveled. Others were quick to point out that though he might have been traveling by the letter of the law, it’s something he often gets away with.

NBA fans know that players often take an extra step without getting called for a travel. The league loves highlight plays and high-scoring games, and those might be harder to come by if officials whistled every time a player took more than two steps.

Do you think this was a travel?

Just like you could call holding on a large percentage of NFL plays, you could probably do the same in the NBA. But both leagues know that lots of points bring in viewers, so they are lax on enforcing those violations.

Harden may have traveled, but that didn’t stop one Hall of Famer player from praising his merits as an “unguardable player.”

Speaking Sunday on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” Charles Barkley made a bold claim that went viral just as quickly as Harden’s move on Wiggins.

Basketball Legend Jerry West, Known as the NBA Logo, Dies at 86

“James Harden, to me, might be the most unguardable player I’ve ever seen,” Barkley said.

Some fans think Harden travels, while Barkley thinks Harden is just plain talented. Perhaps there’s a connection that could be made between the two different beliefs:

Well said, random Twitter user. The Timberwolves need to do a better job of defending Harden’s step-back/travel over the rest of the series or they won’t be taking a return flight to Houston after Game 4 in Minnesota.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
Houston, Texas
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise