Here’s why Dwyane Wade had a dumbfounded look on his face after he got called for traveling with 26.9 seconds left in Game 4 — he does that little step back move all the time. And it’s never called a travel.
And it wasn’t this time.
The video above is courtesy our old friend Rob Mahoney, now of Sports Illustrated, who broke the footage down for The Point Forward. He quotes the Rulebook and adds these comments.
“A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing must release the ball to start his dribble before his second step.
The first step occurs when a foot, or both feet, touch the floor after gaining control of the ball.”
The operative word is bolded above, as the most crucial determination to be made on this play is when Wade gains control of the ball. If he gathers his dribble either simultaneously or slightly after planting his foot (as appears to be the case), then his play is legitimate. If he gains control before taking that step, then it would count as the first in his sequence and thus make the play a violation.
Source: Kurt Helin, Pro Football Talk