Rockets: Gilbert Arenas explains why James Harden doesn’t travel

James Harden of the Houston Rockets Patrick Beverley of the LA Clippers (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
James Harden of the Houston Rockets Patrick Beverley of the LA Clippers (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Gilbert Arenas provided an explanation of why Houston Rockets superstar James Harden doesn’t get called for travelling.

Travel or not a travel? This question has been thrown around every time James Harden and the Houston Rockets take the court, much to the chagrin of Rockets fans.

It’s become noticeable how this question doesn’t get raised with any other superstar, which is only more frustrating for Rockets fans. Mote often than not, the question gets raised when Harden turns to his stepback 3-pointer, which is a move that has become lethal, much to the surprise of Rockets GM Daryl Morey.

But many basketball fans believe Harden travels whenever he turns to this signature move, although that’s not exactly true. 11-year NBA veteran Gilbert Arenas shared a conversation he had with an NBA referee regarding the traveling conundrum surrounding the Houston Rockets superstar.

Arenas clears up travel controversy surrounding Rockets’ Harden

Arenas was on the Knuckleheads podcast and explained why Harden “gets away” with the move.

“I asked a ref, can you tell me why Harden’s moves pass? And he said 70 percent of the time it’s legit, and 30 percent of the time he’s travelling. But in real time, because it’s 70/30, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I can’t just pre-judge, because you’ve got to remember, when he goes, he’s stepping. Now I’ve gotta think how many steps was that? And he said. we can’t do that, we’ve just gotta look at it. So when he does it in steps, unless it was like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, it’s a travel. Other than that, I have to let the play go.’

So for the most part, he’s doing it legit, sometimes he’s a little anxious. When he’s in real-time and he does it, I can’t judge it that fast. But what I do is say, well he’s moving away from the basket, so the defense has an advantage, because he’s not moving towards the basket.

So I’m not gonna help you out by blowing the whistle every time he does the step. You know where he’s going, he’s going back there somewhere. He’s just making harder shots than easier shots. So you just let it slide.”

First off, this is quite an interesting conversation that took place between Arenas and the referee he spoke with. It’s also an interesting point that the defense has an advantage when Harden resorts to the step-back, since he’s going away from the basket.

But the reality is, the step-back is certainly not a travel, however a much different argument can be made about the double-stepback move. The fact that this conversation is even raised is yet another example of the greatness and innovative ability of Harden, as we’ve never seen a player become so lethal with the step-back before Harden.

Harden’s step-back has simply been unstoppable, as he’s been shooting the following percentages when resorting to the move behind the arc.

2019-20: 37.3 percent2018-19: 38.9 percent2017-18: 44.6 percent

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Harden has also expressed frustration with the constant conversation regarding whether or not he’s travelling, which is certainly understandable. But although the conversation isn’t likely to end any time soon, it’s good to at least hear one referee explain that it’s not a travel.