Did Ginobili travel on his game-winner?


If you haven’t been checking out Hardwood Paroxysm‘s recurring feature, Have Ball, Will Travel, do yourself a favor and start. In each edition, the prolific and precocious Rob Mahoney breaks down a controversial traveling call or no-call, as the case may be. This morning he took a detailed look at Manu Ginobili’s last second game-winner from last night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

I’ll let Rob do the talking:

According to the NBA Rulebook, “The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after gaining control of the ball.” Thus, Ginobili’s step-back (with his left foot, prior to the jump stop) is his actual first step. The rulebook also states that “a progressing player who jumps off one foot on the first step may land with both feet simultaneously for the second step.” Ginobili does just that, and gives us a fine example of a perfectly legal jump stop. He jumps immediately afterward to fire up the game-winner, which means for those counting at home, the entire sequence consisted of a rulebook-entitled two steps.

Manu’s physicality has always had a jagged, uncanny quality to it, making him an especially difficult player to officiate, and no play from his massive ouevres of euro-steps and step-backs may demonstrate that better than his game-winning shot last night. Quite simply, I can’t remember the last time I saw somebody jump stop backwards: When combined with his first step, it gives the illusion that Ginobili was slightly out of control and after taking one too many steps barely caught himself with a jump stop.

This illusion is all the more dramatic given how well Luc Richard Mbah a Moute defends the play. Manu’s move would be sure to shake almost any defender in the league, yet Mbah a Moute is with him every step of the way. He swiftly closes the gap created by Manu’s jump stop and challenges the shot. It’s a masterful defensive play that should not be overlooked because of the mastery Manu Ginobili displayed.

  • DCounts

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been waiting to see if it was going to end up in the “Have Ball, Will Travel” feature. It wasn’t there earlier when I checked.

  • agutierrez

    Excellent analysis. In the slow mo replay it also appears that Luc slightly touches the ball as he reaches in with his left hand as Manu is trying to transfer it from his right to left hand to prepare to shoot. Wouldn’t that also negate any possible traveling violation? Nevertheless, the film clearly and indisputably shows there was no travel. Great work. Now quit crying Bucks.

  • DieHardSpur

    I am about as BIASED is it gets… read my name.

    But – that being said – no travel…

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  • ITGuy


  • Nick

    What I love about the shot is that no one really celebrated as if it were a buzzer beater. Just business as usual.

  • Jacky

    I am a spurs fans, but I need to point out that Ginobili travelled.

    If you count his left foot as first step, and before that his right root belonged to last dribble, then his last dribble took 3 steps and travelled.

  • Tyler

    In other new, Bruce Bowen is ranked 4th on the 50 dirtiest players in sports history…..


  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Graydon Gordian

    Jacky, if you take the time to read Mahoney’s post you’ll understand why you are incorrect.

  • http://bit.ly/spursexaminer Jason Rodriguez

    Ball was live when he went to his left foot. Neither the refs, nor the coaches or players took any issue with the move Ginobili made, and in a situation like that you’d expect they would be the first to complain. I think that it’s the simple fact that Ginobili jump stepped backwards rather than forwards that has confused many. If you envision Ginobili traveling forward rather than backward than it looks less like a travel.

  • Missourispursfan

    This is dead on accurate. I just posted in another
    forum(Manu is the Man) that while others jump
    stop going forward, Manu being Manu did his
    jump stop going backward–an unbelievable feat
    of athleticism–those not used to Manu’s moves
    can’t understand, so they resort to saying it must
    have been illegal. As for Bruce Bowen–what a
    defensive stud. Again because he’s good and not
    a chest thumper all of a sudden he’s dirty. I guess
    if he Jason Terry’ed someone(aka: kick in the
    crotch) he’d be a celebrated hero…..

  • Hobson13

    “Quite simply, I can’t remember the last time I saw somebody jump stop backwards.”

    That’s the key. If Manu were driving towards the basket and made the same jump stop move, no one would have said a thing about it. However, how many players essentially do a REVERSE jump stop? It never, ever happens which is why there was some confusion regarding a travel. I was impressed how well Mbah a Moute defended such a perverse move. He was still right in Manu’s face after that jump stop, but in the game of basketball good offense beats good defense.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Graydon Gordian


    Actually, Scott Skiles took issue with the no-call, saying, “[Mbah a Moute] made him travel. We just looked at it about five times.”

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    I must have watched the replay of the last shot, umm, about 50 times. I had to figure out what exactly happened.

    I came to the exact same conclusion. No travel. Two steps and legal.

    Manu’s brilliance continues to be swept under the rug.

    Ginobili for MVP.

  • http://bit.ly/spursexaminer Jason Rodriguez


    Thanks for the heads up, didn’t see that.

  • David

    I have to say what’s confusing all the doubters is that it was a “jump” back jumpshot vs. the normal “step” back jumpshot that everybody is used to seeing. There really was nothing different about it. Manu does it all the time, moreso this year it seems. He knew he had a long, quick defender on him and instead of doing his normal step back, he jumped back.

  • quincyscott

    The only question is whether both feet land at exactly the same time, thus making this a jump stop. It’s there that I think Skiles might be disputing things. It’s pretty hard to tell, in slow motion, if his feet land together, or if there’s a little difference. At regular speed, it sure looks like a legitimate jump stop to me.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Doing a jump stop backwards is a very common occurrence. Anytime a shooter does a dribble step-back, that’s a backwards jump stop. Iverson did it constantly to create space for his jumper and Monta Ellis is a master at this now. Heck, Earl Boykins did it twice during the game last night.

    What makes Manu’s play last night so odd is he used the wrong foot to lead into his jump stop. He drove left, so a normal push off into the jump stop would have been with the right foot. Mbah a Moute played such good D that he forced Manu into a left footed step/stumble. Most people would have just fallen down, but since Manu is Manu, he was able to push off his left foot and land in a jump stop, and the rest is amazing.

    This video shows Deron Williams doing the dribble step-back, driving left, pushing off with his right foot into a jump stop and shooting this J. It should look very familiar to anyone who’s watched the game, because it happens 20 times a game.


    Manu’s move just looks odd because he was forced into pushing off with the wrong (left) foot into the jump stop.

  • Czernobog

    If you read the comments section over there you’ll see the new complaint is that the move started with a carry, LI (laughing inside.)

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    The difference between Manu’s step back last night and the “typical” step back of DW is this:

    Manu didn’t keep his dribble alive during the step back and actually it “appeared” to the naked eye that he took two step backs after the dribble ended.

    DW kept the dribble alive until the middle of the step back. That is why he can land on his feet one after the other and it’s fine.

    But here’s the thing…
    Manu did not travel. His dribble was alive until he was on his left foot and then he stepped back and landed on two feet (or very, very darn close). Completely within the rules of the game but because it looks somewhat funky, people beetch ignorantly.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ Len

    We both agree that Manu didn’t travel. I will also agree with your assessment that D-Will’s step back involved a live dribble a full step later than Manu’s.

    I love this kind of analysis. Here’s some more knowledge. The thing with D-Will’s move is that when he lands in his jump stop, he still has a step available for a step-through, because he kept his dribble live until after the right foot push off. He could up fake, get the big man in the air, step-through, and draw the foul, all legally.

    Manu starts to push off with his right foot (still with the live dribble), then picks up the ball after the push off of the right foot. He intends to do the D-Will step back, but as he’s bringing the ball up to the shot pocket, Mbah a Moute gets a piece of the ball/arm and the ball gets fumbled. This causes Manu to push off his left foot into the jump stop, where he corralled the ball and shot it. Had Mbah a Moute been able to stay with the step back/jump stop, Manu would have been screwed, because he had used up all his steps and could not have used a step through.

  • rudy j


  • rob

    Could have gone either way and either call would have been correct.

    This time it favored the Spurs.

  • spurs2go

    It’s official. The wise people from ESPN’s “Around the Horn” claimed the move to be a travel so it must be a travel.

  • lvmainman

    Anyone notice how the Knicks Stoudamire 3pt jump shot with 0.4 seconds that went in, didn’t count?

    Talk about indisputable validation that the Derek Fisher 0.4 shot in the playoffs in 2004 should not have counted!!

  • bduran


    What DW does is not a jump stop. It’s a normal step back because his feet don’t land at the same time. So it counts as two steps instead of one. If he took another step after both feet landed on the step back it would be a travel. Manu had to have both feet hit at the same time because he picked up his dribble a step earlier.

  • SpursfanSteve

    The reason Amare’s didnt count is because he was slow getting the ball into his shooting motion and he wasnt facing the basket. If I remember right, and I try not to remember that play and refuse to watch any highlight of it, Fisher caught the ball in the act and spun to shoot. As much as I hate to say it, and trust me I do, I think his shot was called appropriately.

  • Junierizzle

    Manu did not travel. First of all they SHOULD have called a foul on that bump. But they are never going to call that on a last shot attempt. Second that bump caused Manu to look all jerky on a routine jump back shot.
    On another note, there sure is a lot of hating on this game winner. No one would question it if the same shot was from Wade, Lbj or Kobe.
    Sorry Espn and mainstream media but its the Spurs with the best record, not the Lakers or Heat.
    My god, can you imagine the coverage if LeBron made that shot???

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Everyone who hasn’t seen D-Will tru step back Jumper – here is the link


    He clearly did the same thing and there was no controversy what so ever………..

  • Rowrbazzle

    I thought Ginobili traveled until I saw this. Great (re)post. I saw Nowtizki travel last night against the Blazers: a step followed by a failed jump stop (landed 1, 2 instead of simultaneously) and then a jump for a layup. It wasn’t the end of the game, though, so no one cares.

    Didn’t the NBA rule a few years ago that the shot Fisher made was not possible under the rulebook?

  • vic

    Manus shot was good without a doubt. simply a jump stop going backwards.Bet if you go back and look at some of kobes and ,mjs game winners youll find a few time that they travelled without any hype as to whether the shots were good or not. by the way dont know when the rules were changed to where youre allowed to leave the floor wth the ball in your hands and come back down with it and not be called for traveling.

  • Jimbo

    I don’t know if the NBA ever ruled on the Fisher shot, but I think (and thought so at the time too) that it was a bad call. You need – by rule I believe- four tenths of a second or more to catch and shoot. The shot needs to go up immediately when there is .4 seconds remaining, which is why Amare’s 3 was clearly and correctly waved off. How Fisher had time to catch and turn around and shoot in four tenths of a second is beyond me.

    When you think about it, catching the ball and shooting a true jump shot all in .4 seconds is virtually impossible.

    BTW, I may be remembering incorrectly, but I think the .4 rule was instituted after some guy on the early ’90’s Bulls team (last name Tucker???) hit a 3 with under .4 of a second. The other team raised holy hell about it, the league agreed that it should not have counted, but the Bulls kept the win.

  • Jimbo

    Google is my friend, I’ll correct myself!


    You only need .3 seconds to catch and shoot, according to the link above. And Trent Tucker was on the Knicks when he hit the shot, and the bulls were the opponent.

  • Jimbo

    I’ve posted the last two comments here, but I’ll keep talking to myself. What a game! Almost gave it away on an errant inbounds, and Manu comes up with 2 huge plays in the closing seconds. Just like he showed against the Bucks, he is a fun closer to watch.

  • Hobson13

    On the first day of Christmas my Manu gave to me
    a game winner with controversy

    On the second day of Christmas my Manu gave to me 1 wild-ass layup and a charge on Carmelo Anthony.

    Manu-Claus sure has been busy this Holiday season, but on a serious note, this game was just straight up crazy.

  • TheRed&Black

    Am I correct in saying, that this is not the first time McD has botched a inbound pass? Thank you Manu!

  • Hobson13

    December 16th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    McDyess is a 36 yr old vet. No way in hell he should have made that pass. I couldn’t believe that Pop didn’t call a timeout to move the ball in the front court to avoid a TO and a layup underneath the Nuggs basket (like what happened). Bet Pop doesn’t make that mistake again.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len


    Please vote Manu into the all-star game!

    Go to http://www.nba.com to vote, once per day. You can register for an account for free. No credit card required, only an email account.

    Vote Manu! (all the Spurs for that matter)

  • zeanocrilrr

    Manu is probably the best player in the whole NBA right now when it is the closing seconds and the game is on the line. Those sick game winning plays will surely put more spotlight on this team that has been flying off the radar all season long. And also a big game from Timmy and Tony.

  • td4life

    that was nuts!

    these games are a little too exciting for me.

    if we do manage to win it all, I would be appropriate for each of the big 3 to get at least one Finals MVP award each.

    Anybody else see the “5 best clutch players” video on espn? 2-way clutchness Manu gets the win, and Melo’s final 4 points weren’t enough.

  • zeanocril

    A mental lapse on the part of Mcdyess and Pop. Thank God we have Manu. He is probably the best player in the whole NBA right now when it is the closing seconds and the game is on the line. Those sick game winning plays will surely put more spotlight on this team that has been flying off the radar all season long. And also, it was a big game from Timmy and Tony.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Yes great game all around. Bonner played well – THERE I SAID IT…….. TIMMY WAS THE MAN and we are a lot better when Timmy is being aggressive and getting looks. Ask Nene, fouled out because Timmy was too much for him………

    Pop had a little brain fart there with 16 seconds to go…. no Timmy to protect the RIM and than No TO call to advance the ball………. But we lived

    So all went we expect – Again no Splitter

    I’m just not understanding the rotations and line ups right now.

    2nd night of a back to back and you had to ride Timmy a lot of minutes last night. Even Quinn got some early minutes because of this – Why not Splitter

  • TheRed&Black

    Didn’t Splitter get it hard in the nutts last night? I think he is out with a sore groin. Can anybody confirm this?

  • The Beat Counselor

    Yep, Splitter was out because of a “right pelvic contusion.”


    What a game.

  • neverthehero

    I found it intresting that espn nba team had so few tweets about either of the games.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Nice discussion, everyone. Thanks. I’ve heard this all before, many times, back when Tom Penders coached at Rhode Island and Texas. He drilled his players to take advantage of the jump-stop rule. It seemed like every time they won a close game a new bunch of fans would squawk about how the refs never call traveling anymore. But it wasn’t traveling, it was just unusual.

    Nobody ever gives NBA officials enough credit, but they were really on the ball this time. Anybody notice the position of the ref on this play? He had the perfect angle and was watching very carefully. This wasn’t a missed call–either way, because Mbah a Moute didn’t foul him either (brilliant defense, actually). That was a nice job of officiating.

    An interesting little run Manu’s on, isn’t it? The funny thing was how self-effacing he was after the Milwaukee game. He considered it nothing more than a lucky shot. Of course the same could be said of last night’s shot as well.

    With all the attention given to Manu’s heroics over the last two nights (deservedly so, of course), did anybody else notice the 11 blocked shots by Tim? Not bad for a pair of living fossils. That prompts me to say something now that I’ve been holding onto for a while. This whole business about the Spurs being too old? It’s WAY overplayed. If you look back at NBA history, an awful lot of the best players have been able to play at near peak level when they’re at the same age as Tim, Manu, and Antonio. One example that comes to mind, of a player somewhat similar to Tim, is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He won six championships in his career, but only ONE of them came before his 33rd birthday. He even won the Finals MVP when he was 38. Bill Russell also won an NBA title at an older age than Tim–grabbing 21 rebounds in his last game (Game 7 against the Lakers in 69). And in many ways Manu reminds me of Jerry West, who led the Lakers to back-to-back finals appearances in 72 and 73, when he was 35 and 36. (And he was the MVP of the All-Star game at 35!) And let’s not even start with Malone and Stockton…

    So while I certainly agree with Jesse’s assessment that the biggest contributor to San Antonio’s success this year has been Tony Parker (in a very nice contribution to ESPN’s Daily Dime: http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-101217/daily-dime), I also think that Manu and Tim are healthy again and very, very dangerous. It will be interesting to see how things go in January and February, when the schedule turns very nasty, and of course injury problems are entirely possible for Tim, Manu & Tony. Nonetheless, I think the sports nation is missing the biggest NBA story of 2010 so far: The return of the Spurs as title contenders.

  • Flavor

    ^^^loved that post!

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  • Bankshot21

    Manu is the man. Let me get that out of the way before I start my campaign for an accomplishment that the otherwise all achieving Tim Duncan has yet to accomplish. If the Spurs can buckle down on defense as a team and begin holding teams to about 90 ppg and continue to win and amass a record of let’s say 65-17 is it out of the realm of possibility that TD gets defensive player of the year considerations? He is an awesome rim protector which many poster’s on this blog may want to debate but his timing of blocked shots is the best in the league right now. The year KG won it, TD deserved it,having had the better defensive #’s but the Celtics as a team were so bad ass defensively that they gave it to the anchor. TD is our anchor and is erasing opponents possesions (7 and 4 respectively) in two games that both opposing yeams could have won with just ONE additional possession. Let’s help our beloved Tim Duncan put a ribbon on the gift of a career he’s had for us.

    GO SPURS GO!!!!!

  • Frank

    I think Yes, He traveled, but good post