I recently watched the shaqting uncalled travels, and was wondering why some of those were travels. In the NBA rulebook, it states that a dribble is complete when the ball comes to a rest.
However in those shaqting travels, they started the step count while the ball was still rotating in the hand of the dribbler, but after the ball touches the floor for the last time.
Why do the steps count from that moment on, rather than from the moment he puts both hands on the ball, or when the ball actually stops still (no further rotation in the hand)?

2 Answers 2


You are talking about verbiage that has no bearing on the game. There is no violation for dribbling wrong, but there is one for traveling.

If you are learning about the game or want to ref the phrase you should think about is "when a player picked up their dribble". There are lots of ways you can pick up your dribble, some include:

  • put your full hand under the equator of the ball (OK I know this doesn't always get called)

  • palming the ball

  • hitting the ball with each hand

  • hitting the ball with one hand twice

  • push the ball upward

So as soon as the player "picks up his dribble" a pivot foot is established - the ball could be spinning or moving in the players hand the whole time. He is allowed to move the non-pivot foot as many times as he wants. Once the non-pivot foot is picked up any additional steps can be ringed up for Shaqtin. Note that while we all love Shaqtin the Fool, it is not always 100% accurate on the steps count.


When or when not. That a dribble is "completed" , is although defined by the NBA Rules. Ultimately it is the Referees that rule the game. They decide when it is considered a travel or not. And in the NBA 3 steps after picking up the ball is valid. And many players will often get away with more. As the NBA is highly commercialized and people pay loads of money every night to attend the game. Or to even view the game on TV.

So when you say you see people counting steps when the ball is still roaring in the players hand. And the rules state that it needs to be at a rest. It is the referees that ultimately make the judgment if the ball is resting

Although from my observations with basketball in general steps always count once the ball is picked up. Resting or not. This is just the way that the game has changed and adapted over the years.

Reddit discussion if three steps are legal

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