I was watching this NBA Video Rulebook video. In it, 23 White gathers the ball after ending his dribble, establishing his left foot as his pivot foot. He then steps right-left, and the referee calls a traveling violation.

I was then looking at the 2018-2019 NBA rulebook.

Rule 10, Section XIII, point (d), says:

If a player, with the ball in his possession, raises his pivot foot off the floor, he must pass or shoot before his pivot foot returns to the floor

Since 23 White raised his pivot foot off the floor and returned it to the floor while the ball was still in his hands, this would suggest that the referee made the right call.

But Rule 10, Section XIII, point (b), says:

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.

23 White, upon completion of a dribble, gathered the ball on his left foot, establishing his left foot as his pivot foot. Until now he has made no steps. He then steps with his right foot: Step 1. Afterwards he steps with his left foot: Step 2. So it looks like 23 White is complying with this rule.

  1. Is Section XIII, point (b), allowing something that point (d) of the same section does not allow? What am I missing here?

I am confused because Section XIII, point d, is the same exact rule that we have in FIBA (in fact I have read they just copied the NBA rule, and they did). This leads me to my second question:

  1. Is this action by the offensive player legal under FIBA rules?

4 Answers 4


I don't think there's a conflict. Point b is for recognizing that our feet don't immediately match our action. So coming to a stop, or beginning our shooting motion, our feet tend to move so we shouldn't get punished for it. Point d is that after you come to a stop after point b, you can't pick up your pivot foot without passing or going into a shooting motion. Lebron (your 23 white) doesn't appear to going into a shooting motion when he lifts his foot.

Incidentally, lack of traveling violation enforcement is a constant complaint about the NBA, so it's actually amusing to see this called. Although I'm not sure if this is the "crab dribble" LeBron once complained shouldn't be called to much mockery.

  • I think the 'crab dribble' is rather something like James Harden often does (or used to do at least): youtube.com/watch?v=8zpmigCh0Aw
    – E. Sommer
    Feb 11, 2019 at 13:21
  • So you are saying that the offensive player is complying with point (b) but is violating point (d)? Does the two rules run in parallel? It seems to me that point (d) is just a restriction on point (b). Can you make me an example where I comply with point (d) but violate point (b)? How one is supposed to take two steps if one cannot put the pivot foot down before passing of shooting? P.S. refs usually refer to players by number+shirt color Feb 11, 2019 at 14:03
  • Generally, the way it plays out is that when you do a up and down fake, you lock your position and in order to not get called for a travel, must make a clear shooting motion before your pivot foot lifts.
    – pboss3010
    Feb 11, 2019 at 14:37

The first rule the player has the ball in his possession. The second rule the player is newly possessing the ball. If you think they conflict, then remember that the second rule trumps the first one.


Is this action by the offensive player legal under FIBA rules?

YES, FIBA Article 25 addresses this point and describes 2 different situations.

The rule covers:

  • catching the ball with 2 feet on the floor


  • catching the ball while progressing or completing of a dribble.

Under the second point (while progressing), there is a qualifying comment that is key to understanding how the rule is to be applied. See FIBA Article 25.2.1 Bullet point 2

The first step occurs when one foot or both feet touch the floor after gaining control of the ball.

The emphasis on "after gaining control" is mine. Gaining control is basically treated as the "Zero step".


You missed a step in your analysis. "...White, upon completion of a dribble, gathered the ball on his left foot, establishing his left foot as his pivot foot..."

Gather step is step 0 on LF. He places right foot (RF) down! This is step 1! At this stage, either foot can be the pivot. He lifts RF -> hence establishes LF as pivot. He then steps RF down (step 2), lifts pivot foot (LF) up - still legal. Then he is no longer allowed to place LF down -> he does (step 3), hence travels.

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