Although NBA officials have cracked down on traveling,
palming--the violation also known as carrying--still goes mostly
unpunished. That's why NBA players carry more than U-Haul. "It
used to be just the guards who did it, but now the big men are
getting into it too," says one Eastern Conference guard. "Watch
'Zo [Heat center Alonzo Mourning] or [Hornets forward] Anthony
Mason when he's backing his man in on the low post. Both of them
palm the ball on every dribble."
But carrying, which involves cradling the ball, still remains
mainly the province of point guards. The Trail Blazers' Kenny
Anderson, the Bucks' Terrell Brandon, the 76ers' Allen Iverson
and the Jazz's John Stockton are the ones usually mentioned as
the leading practitioners, with Iverson vaulting to the head of
the class. "Iverson had more carries last year than Emmitt
Smith," says a Western Conference coach.
"Everybody has a move or two that are borderline illegal," says
an Eastern Conference forward, "but if you do it long enough,
you establish it as your move, and the refs will start giving it
to you. Or they'll at least warn you. I've heard refs say to
[Knicks center Patrick] Ewing before a game, 'Watch the bunny
hop tonight, Patrick. I'm going to be calling it.'"
That hop of Ewing's, which often comes as he drives across the
lane, was mentioned by several players as a traveling violation
that is rarely called. Noted right behind Ewing's misdemeanor
was sharpshooting Pacers guard Reggie Miller's catch-and-shoot
move. "He gets the pass coming off a pick and then he shuffles
his feet before he goes up for the shot, without once putting
the ball on the floor," says a rival shooting guard. There are
also those who think Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon's elaborate
spins and fakes are too good to be legal.
Only one player, however, was charged with getting away with a
multitude of illegal moves--Michael Jordan. According to some
opponents, Jordan 1) travels when he makes his move to the
basket; 2) grabs the arm or shirt of his defender to subtly yank
him out of position; and 3) hooks his arm around his opponent to
fend him off as he drives by. Which brings to mind the words of
former Jordan teammate John Salley: "The more people say that
you get away with stuff, the better you must be."
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO EWING'S HOP BEFORE HE POPS USUALLY ESCAPES THE REFEREES' CENSURE [Tim Hardaway, Chris Childs, Patrick Ewing, P.J. Brown and Alonzo Mourning in game]