The NBA All-Star Game is just an exhibition of three-pointers, slam dunks and no defense, which, these days, is no different from an NBA regular season game. But the all-star break does give us a chance to assess the most interesting story lines as we head toward the playoffs:
It’s official: You cannot travel with the ball in the NBA. Google “Bradley Beal travel” and see for yourself.
In the Washington Wizards-Detroit Pistons game last week, here is what Beal did, as described by The Washington Post’s Jacob Bogage: “Beal came off a pair of screens with the ball and drove left toward the rim. . . . Blake Griffin stood in his way. Beal gathered his dribble, took two steps toward the bucket and thought about shooting but instead pulled the ball down and fumbled it for a moment. Then he took two more steps and threw a pass out to the perimeter.”
Actually, I counted five steps — maybe six — but, then again, I had failed LASIK eye surgery.
In any case, there was no travel call, and the NBA referees association the next day explained the non-call via Twitter.
(Note: At press time, an English translation of that explanation was unavailable.)
Best I can tell, if this interpretation were applied a generation ago, Michael Jackson would have been an NBA all-star.
Speaking of which, James “I Have Traveled to Another Dimension” Harden is otherworldly. He has scored at least 30 points in 31 straight games, only eclipsed in NBA history by Wilt Chamberlain’s 65-game streak in 1961-62. As Reggie Miller would say, Harden can really “score the ball.”
Harden has two signature moves: his step-back three-pointer and his Euro-step drive. On occasion — and when I say “on occasion,” I would estimate 12 to 15 times a game — he appears to travel; as a rule, it is uncalled. Anyway, if it’s up to NBA officials, dribbling might one day become obsolete.
● The Philadelphia 76ers now have an incredible starting five, but everything is tainted by the Process. The 76ers tanked for years, losing on purpose to accumulate high draft picks. That has resulted in a starting lineup of Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons.
Basketball-wise, these are “fruit of the poisonous tree,” an important legal concept. Such evidence is generally not admissible in court; such draft picks should not be admissible on court.
I refer to Nardone v. United States, 1939, famously refereed by Felix Frankfurter and company.
● Might Adam Silver soon replace Roger Goodell? Silver, the NBA honcho, reportedly has been approached by some NFL owners to become the NFL commissioner.
I hate to burst this trial balloon, but is it possible Silver is all sizzle and no steak? Consider this: The Alliance of American Football just drew more viewers head-to-head in prime time than a Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder game.
What, you have never heard of the Alliance of American Football? Exactly.
Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd says otherwise, but Russell Westbrook is still very, very good. Westbrook has a triple-double in a record 11 straight games en route to his third consecutive season averaging a triple-double. Meanwhile, my buddy Cowherd constantly berates Westbrook as a selfish, stat-stuffing buffoon whose teams just happen to win a lot more than they lose.
Westbrook could find a cure for cancer, and Cowherd would still say he is only trying to pad his numbers.
The new “sexy” in the NBA is this — sign two maximum-contract super studs and your team is off to Title Town. Uh, how did that work out for the producers of “Ishtar” with Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman? Or for the producers of “Gigli” with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez?
The Knicks finally won a game. The results are under review by the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J.
Ask The Slouch
Q. We don’t know the details of Colin Kaepernick’s confidential settlement with the NFL, but do you figure he got a good deal? (R. Vogel; Franklin Park, Ill.)
A. If he is living in Myanmar and applying for citizenship there when the next NFL season begins, you will have your answer.
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A. Oddly enough, you’ve reminded me of the old Yogi Berra line, “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”
Q. Why doesn’t the U.S. government just hire the Fenway Park folks to build the wall, paint it green, cover it with ads and actually turn a profit? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
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