8 Most Common Illegal Moves of Today's NBA Superstars

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2012

8 Most Common Illegal Moves of Today's NBA Superstars

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    The NBA has rules, but not everyone follows.

    Even the most talented of the Association's athletes are guilty of breaking—or at the very least bending—the rulebook on more than one occasion.

    LeBron James too? Yes, even The Chosen One has a tendency to operate outside the confines of the league's guidelines.

    Though many times illegal moves—hand checks, leg kicks, etc.—are unintentional, certain superstars have made such violations a tendency; they've integrated them into their game on purpose, not accident.

    But who are the biggest offenders? Which stars bend the rules more than others? And most importantly, how do they do it?

    Let's find out.

Kevin Garnett: Illegal Screens

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    Kevin Garnett loves to set screens, even outside the pick-and-roll.

    The problem is, though, they're not always legal.

    The whole point of a screen is to remain stationary to create space for your teammate. Garnett not only has a tendency to keep his feet moving, but his arms mobile as well, as if he is body-checking his opponent.

    Sometimes, he gets away with it because 1) he's Kevin freaking Garnett and 2) his infractions aren't always as noticeable as they are here. His illegal screens can be very discreet and easy to overlook; his movement isn't always abrupt.

    But whether the referees call it is irrelevant. Because no matter how many times he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he's not about to stop.

    Such tactics have become a part of his game.

Blake Griffin: Forearm

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    Blake Griffin can dunk, that much we know. But he can also dish out plenty of mid-air forearms as well.

    I'm all for creating space and everything, but face-palming another player to help propel yourself toward the rim is taking it a bit far.

    Sometimes, such contact appears to be initiated by the defender, as if Griffin's arm is just there and—Pau Gasol in this case—is barreling into it.

    And while that may hold true on occasion, more often than not, Griffin knows what he's doing. 

    Perhaps it's involuntary; maybe such a move is just his instincts kicking in.

    Whatever it is, it doesn't matter, because whether or not he gets whistled for his forearming tactics, it's still illegal.

    Gasol and the Lakers will attest to that.

Dwyane Wade: Leg Kick

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    Speaking of creating space, no player in the league is better at getting a shot off than Dwyane Wade.

    The versatile shooting guard is simply amazing when it comes to adjusting or just ensuring the release of his shot attempt. Maybe too amazing.

    Though one would be hard-pressed to argue that all Wade does his commit offensive fouls that don't get called, he does have a tendency to use his leg to separate himself from his defender.

    It's a clever move really, because he can cover it up with a fadeaway. In fact, most of the time, the contact his leg kick provokes results in free throws for Mr. Wade himself, as it appears the defender is attempting to wrap him up.

    But thanks to many replays, we know the truth. 

    Because as good as Wade is at creating space on the fly, no one's that good. Not without a bending the rules anyway.

Kobe Bryant: Lean-in

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    Here's my problem with some of Kobe Bryant's lean-in jumpers: He comes off the ground with his planted foot first.

    Many of Bryant's lean-ins are legitimate, but if you watch closely here, his back foot—his supposedly stationary foot—comes off the ground before his free one, which he has already maneuvered with.

    At the very least, that can be called as a travel.

    The good news?

    This one comes down to timing, so it's highly unlikely Bryant does it consciously.

    That said, I suppose we cannot put anything past the Black Mamba.

Dirk Nowitzki: Knee Jerk

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    So, we've got Dwyane Wade's leg kick, and then we have Dirk Nowitzki's knee jerk.

    At first glance, the two appear strikingly similar. However, where Wade extends his leg as if he's stretching out his hamstring, Nowitzki opts to throw his knee up, like he's attempting half a cannonball dive.

    Simply put, they're different moves—or rather, violations—with the same result. Nowitzki's knee jerk assists him in creating space between him and his defender, providing him with the best look at the basket possible.

    And in this case, it's no accident. Nowitzki has been knee-jerking his way toward game-winners for years. I know it, you know it and Kobe Bryant knows it.

    Oh, and Nowitzki knows it too.

Rajon Rondo: Three to Four Step Travel

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    Some players tend to change their (spoiler alert) pivot foot, but not Rajon Rondo. At least, not often.

    If Rondo is going to travel, he's going to do it right—or wrong depending on how you look at it.

    The point guard is apparently so swift in everything he does that he doesn't even realize he's taking too many steps. But while the referees have called him on it before, he's gotten away with blatant travels more than any player ever should.

    And given how calculated and instinctive a player we know Rondo is, these aren't the type of repeated mistakes we'd expect to see.

    I'd simply go as far as saying that a third—and sometimes fourth—step is more of a tactic than an accident.

Carmelo Anthony: Elbow

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    Are you beginning to notice how many illegal maneuvers are used to simply create space? Because I am.

    Plenty of the NBA's stars are no stranger to holding the ball above their heads as they plot their next method of attack, but few players exaggerate the elbow's movement as much as Carmelo Anthony.

    Rajon Rondo is one of the more unlucky victims, but believe me, there have been more.

    When Anthony holds the rock above his head, he sways his elbows from side to side, undoubtedly hoping defenders will back off, providing him with a little extra room get off a shot or attack the rim.

    Why's that illegal exactly?

    Because in plenty of cases, relentless defenders won't give 'Melo an inch, leaving them open to catching an elbow to the face like Rondo did here.

LeBron James: Multiple Pivots

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    LeBron James can do no wrong, even when he actually does.

    Almost every NBA player has a tendency to take that extra step from time to time, but James has scored countless points and dished out plenty of dimes after changing his pivot foot.

    Could it be an accident? Perhaps, after all, keeping track of which foot has remained stationary is quite difficult courtesy of the fast-paced nature of the game. But James does it often; he's a repeat offender.

    So, while it could prove to be an accidental slight of foot, James is no stranger to traveling without hearing whistles blow.

    Just ask the Celtics.


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