The Trouble With Traveling

Lately, fans, critics, and commentators alike have been buzzing about the definition of travel in the National Basketball Association. Two weeks ago in competition with the Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards’ All-Star guard, Bradley Beal was accused of getting away with traveling after he took multiple steps while possessing the basketball

When confronted with the situation, NBA referees have defended their decision, saying that Beal took the two allowed steps, lost possession, took a step during this duration, and then took two more before passing—a total of five steps. But if you watch the video, it’ll make you realize that the referees might be purely ornamental, similar to Zebras you’d see on a grassland safari, running back and forth, occasionally stopping to produce excrement.  

While this situation has angered many people, it has done little to offend me. I kind of enjoy the idea that traveling is hardly called. In fact, I want to see it go further.  

I’d love to see what happens if LeBron James said “screw this,” before tucking the basketball underneath his arm and charging down the court, plowing over whoever dares step in his way. We, as fans, would see a hell of a lot better gameplay this way, and a surplus of extremely high scoring games.  

Now, what would happen if we put the ball in Steph Curry’s hands, told DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant to form a sort of “screen” before throwing a short pass to Klay Thompson who would then follow his three blockers down the court without dribbling once? I bet we’d see something more interesting in the NBA than we’ve seen in years.  

This style of gameplay would catch on fast, and I think that teams would begin to quickly decipher the offenses of their opponents, forcing simplified plays to become more complex. I’m talking shooting guards and small forwards having to widen to the sideline while power forwards and centers stay close to the point guard, protecting him from any defenders that might get in his line of sight or even try to push him down. This form of protection can allow the point guard to really read the coverage.  

Defenses would then have to decide on if they have to split the court into four zones, three zones, two zones, or play man-to-man; also determining who gets to rush the passer. Since the thrower might continually get pummeled, I’d like to see the coach’s union request the game to allow more players on the court than just five—let’s say 11—giving this player more blockers and more receiving options. Once approved, the coaches would attempt to change the shape of the ball from spherical to oblong, pointed, and egg-like, making it easier for the point guard to throw it long distances with more precision.  

If the league were to keep its strict fouling rules, then it might give too much advantage to whoever is on offense. I find that the best solution is to omit these fouls, letting the defenders tackle whoever has the ball. And forget about all of that running clock and constant moving nonsense, we should ensure that the game stops every time a ball-carrier is “downed.” Then, after regrouping, they can start again from the spot they were tackled—let’s call that the line-of-scrimmage.  

The point guard should call a play that is either run-based or pass-based, while defensive coordinators could produce coverages and pass-rushes, possibly even “blitzing”. Over time, the complexity of the game could change the NBA forever, and Bradley Beal’s travel would mean nothing in the grand scheme of the ever-changing sport of basketball.