Although NBA officials have cracked down on traveling, palming—the violation also known as carrying—still goes mostly unpunished. That's why NBA players carry more than U-Haul. "It used to be just the guards who did it, but now the big men are getting into it too," says one Eastern Conference guard. "Watch 'Zo [Heat center Alonzo Mourning] or [Hornets forward] Anthony Mason when he's backing his man in on the low post. Both of them palm the ball on every dribble."
But carrying, which involves cradling the ball, still remains mainly the province of point guards. The Trail Blazers' Kenny Anderson, the Bucks' Terrell Brandon, the 76ers' Allen Iverson and the Jazz's John Stockton are the ones usually mentioned as the leading practitioners, with Iverson vaulting to the head of the class. "Iverson had more carries last year than Emmitt Smith," says a Western Conference coach.
"Everybody has a move or two that are borderline illegal." says an Eastern Conference forward, "but if you do it long enough, you establish it as your move, and the refs will start giving it to you. Or they'll at least warn you. I've heard refs say to [ Knicks center Patrick] Ewing before a game, 'Watch the bunny hop tonight, Patrick. I'm going to be calling it.' "
That hop of Ewing's, which often comes as he drives across the lane, was mentioned by several players as a traveling violation that is rarely called. Noted right behind Ewing's misdemeanor was sharpshooting Pacers guard Reggie Miller's catch-and-shoot move. "He gets the pass coming off a pick and then he shuffles his feet before he goes up for the shot, without once putting the ball on the floor," says a rival shooting guard. There are also those who think Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon's elaborate spins and fakes are too good to be legal.
Only one player, however, was charged with getting away with a multitude of illegal moves—Michael Jordan. According to some opponents, Jordan 1) travels when he makes his move to the basket; 2) grabs the arm or shirt of his defender to subtly yank him out of position; and 3) hooks his arm around his opponent to fend him off as he drives by. Which brings to mind the words of former Jordan teammate John Salley: "The more people say that you get away with stuff, the better you must be."