A Few Bullets: 2008 Olympics, Traveling Violations & FIBA vs. NBA


  • Olympic basketball… hopefully you were able to watch many of the games – especially between two non-US teams. I did when I could, but was at the whim of the NBC broadcast which limited me to only the games that USA was playing in. I will reserve much of my subjective thoughts to myself except to say that the finals versus Spain has to be one of the most riveting Olympic finals since say the ’72 USA vs Russia game…?! It made staying up until the wee hours of the morning well worth it.

  • Speaking of the ’72 Olympics, Doug Collins (Olympic analyst, former NBA player/coach), said it best in his post-game thoughts: For the longest time, the USA won by playing ‘power basketball.’ To win in international play, you’ve got to get international [type] players. You don’t play two big guys … you play that 4-man who is a LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony who gives you such versatility. You saw it today. You have to make outside shots. You have to handle the ball under pressure. In international ball, you need versatile players to win.”
  • Proud of the USA team… not necessarily because of WHAT they accomplished, but more so, for HOW they did it. (What I really want to say is: “…It’s amazing what happens when no ones cares who gets the credit and you play with respect for your opponents and with passion.” But, I won’t!)
  • Far more than winning gold, what excites me is the legacy effect that this will have on basketball in North America. There’s a good article on ESPN.com on how Jerry Colangelo and Coach K will look to make USA Basketball’s recent success, long-term.
  • Woulda loved to have seen that Olympic final with my boy Jose Calderon in the line-up!


  • Not sure how many are aware of the differences between how the traveling call is determined and administered in the North American game versus the FIBA internationally game… but, if you’re curious there is a distinct difference. Check out the video below as there has been a lot said over the lack of traveling violations called against the US in the Olympics.

  • In the NBA, nobody would really blink an eye at these ‘no calls’ (see the video). They happen, in fact, quite frequently. Where the biggest difference occurs – and the most violations for a North American (NA) player playing in the FIBA rules – is on the “blast step.” That’s what I call it… let me clarify it. Imagine a player has the ball and hasn’t used their dribble. Their left foot is their pivot foot. They then go into an attacking dribble move where they push the ball out with their right hand and take a long step with their right leg. Typically, especially the way it’s taught in NA, this is automatically blown as a travel in the FIBA game. No questions asked. This is a BIG adjustment for basketball players. If you have player who’s interested in playing basketball overseas, I’d encourage you to introduce either a shorter first step or a crossover step on their first dribble move. Just a thought. (Quick story… we had an international player we drafted when I was with the Toronto Raptors and one of the coaches was trying to get him to take that long blast step on his first move. The player was confused… to the point where we had to literally slow down his steps to introduce the movement pattern to him. It was like working with someone new to the game. After they were done, I pulled the coach to the side to explain that as a Euro he probably had never used that type of footwork that frequently. We had a laugh… there are different types of ethnocentrisms—even in sport.)

Just ideas to trigger thought (and hopefully discussion).