Why Do Referees Not Call Palming In The NBA?

Why Do Referees Not Call Palming In The NBA

One aspect about the National Basketball Association (NBA) that makes it exciting to watch is the quick dribble moves that players make with the basketball. Players like Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and others are some of the best dribbles the game of basketball has ever seen. Sometimes, however, players commit a violation known as “palming” while dribbling the ball. The remainder of this piece will discuss palming and why it is rarely, if ever, called in the NBA.

What Is Palming?

Before discussing why the palming violation is not called in the NBA, it is important to know what exactly a palming violation is. Palming, also called a carrying violation, occurs when the player dribbling the basketball places their hand underneath the ball while dribbling and then continues to dribble normally. It also happens when a player grips the ball with their palm to stop their dribbling motion. In either instance, the violation is supposed to result in a dead-ball turnover, and possession is awarded to the other team. 

The reason that this move is illegal is that it provides an unfair advantage to the dribbler, allowing them to deceive a defender into thinking they are about to pass or shoot by moving their hand underneath the basketball. Therefore, they become off-balance when the player goes to dribble again. At lower levels of basketball and even in college, this violation is often called when it occurs, although sometimes it is so quick that the referee is unable to see it. Once players reach the NBA, however, refs do not seem to call it nearly as much.

Why Do NBA Referees Not Call Palming Violations?

Although referees are supposed to officiate the game based on the rules of basketball, the NBA appears to operate slightly differently than the rest of the basketball world. While they still call most of the rules the same as other leagues, there are subtle differences. One of those is the lack of calling the palming/carrying violation. The reason for this is quite simple; the NBA does not want to slow the game down. The league wants a fast-paced, action-packed game, because that is what is most entertaining for fans. While it is a basketball league, the NBA is a business first, and they know what type of game fans want to pay to see. If referees called palming violations, traveling violations, and others more often, the game would be much slower and not be as exciting for fans. Additionally, players often commit these violations right before they are about to perform a spectacular dribble move, shot, or dunk, and the league certainly wants as many of those highlights to occur in a game as possible. Thus, the palming violation is often ignored in the NBA to make the game more entertaining for fans, thereby making more people want to attend games, making more money for the league.