walk the dog (wok thuh dahg) phrase. The polar opposite of satelliting, where a player -- in concert with the inbounder -- tries to save as much time as possible in moving the ball downcourt by letting the inbounder roll or bounce the ball into play while they guard the ball without touching it and therefore starting the clock.

Usage example: Rajon Rondo Chris Paul walks the dog more than any other player in the league. Steve Nash Rajon Rondo probably comes in second and Steve Nash is a distant third.

Word history: The term "walking the dog" as well as (save for a few word changes) the definition shown above was invented by Basketbawful reader Manamongst Hussein in an email to me quite some time ago. I just didn't have the proper videographic example. Until now.


Oddly enough, some players -- Rajon Rondo Chris Paul in particular -- often use this maneuver at various points through out a game, even when time isn't a factor. I have no idea why they do it. Walking the dog makes perfect sense in end-of-game situations where every tick of the clock is as precious as a cheerleader covered in chocolate frosting. But doing it, say, midway through the second quarter...is there any benefit? I guess that, in theory, it saves time on the shot clock. But I can't imagine that it provides much of an advantage over time. Can we get the guys at 82games.com on this?

Update! I received a comment and a few emails from readers who believed that Jack McCallum coined the phrase in his magnum opus :07 Seconds or Less. Which he did...sort of. Only he didn't create the term; Kevin Tucker, the Phoenix Suns' director of security, did. And it doesn't mean quite the same thing. From the book (page 270):

And then there was the Nash number: One shot taken in the second half. But as the coaches review the game film, the explanation for it seems painfully obvious: The Mavericks threw constant double-teams at him, sometimes triple-teams, and Nash almost never had an open perimeter shot or a clean path to drive. On the rare occasions when a big man had to defend Nash alone (last night it was usually DeSagana Diop), that defender did a good job and discouraged Nash from even attempting to break him down, or, as Kevin Tucker always shouts from the bench when Nash is isolated on a big, "walking the dog."
So, no, we did not steal this Word of the Day from Mr. McCallum. And for the record, McCallum's Unfinished Business is much, much better than :07 Seconds or Less. In point of fact, that book is THE reason I started writing about sports back in the day, which led to a 10,000-word story on my high school girl's varsity basketball team that took up half of one issue of the school paper...and earned me a hairy eyeball from my advisor (who probably regretted giving me the freedom to do that piece). The story was, however, nominated for some award that I didn't win. I'd probably remember what the award was if I'd won it. But whatever.

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18 Comments:
Blogger AdamP30 said...
Iverson walked the dog clear to the 3 point line at some point in the 4th quarter of yesterdays game against the clippers. If I can find it in the league pass online archive I will post a video

Blogger Casey said...
Also, it doesn't get called much, but the five-second inbound count is supposed to continue until the player picks up the ball. I've seen a player get whistled for "walking the dog" too long.

Anonymous Al James said...
Well I think the reason why they don't do it only for time-management reasons is obviously because the opposing defense wouldn't have any of it. Think about it. An end game scenario where the defense just allows the PG to roll the ball to half court? Maybe in Golden State but anywhere else a team's defense would be putting too much pressure on the inbounds play so walking the dog wouldn't even be possible.

Anonymous Thekourt said...
Chris Paul does this constantly, from the first quarter of the game on, as long as the opponents will allow him to do it. I think the reason is it gets you an extra 1-2 seconds on the shot clock, because the shot clock doesn't start until the ball is picked up. By walking the dog, you're picking the ball up 1-2 seconds closer to the frontcourt, which buys you time on the shotclock.

I also think it leads to less possessions, because if you do it after a made field goal the game clock keeps running while the shot clock is stopped. For teams like New Orleans, who seem to want to have as few possessions as possible in a game, maybe this is an advantage.

Blogger Patrick said...
Funniest thing I saw Rondo do last week against the Blazers was walking the dog cross-court in the backcourt. The inbounder passed him the ball on the near-side and he let the ball go almost all the way across the court before he picked it up and dribbled across mid-court.

Anonymous milaz said...
what? nothing on the "crab dribble" travel of LBJ?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
milaz -- My friend, just go down and check out Worst of the Weeekend...

Blogger West Coast Slant said...
LBJ walked the dog against the Wiz the other night. When he picked it up, Caron looked over his shoulder and then Bron Bron was gone to the hole for an easy deuce. Walking the dog gives the defensive player something else to think about and, in that way, gives the offensive player an advantage.

Anonymous Prole said...
Pretty sure Jack McCallum uses "Walk the Dog" in the book "Seven Seconds or Less" to describe a little-on-big mismatch where the little attacks the big with the dribble.

Also, the my verification word is "ogabla", which I'm pretty sure is the audible that KG uses when he wants Rondo to wait as long as possible to use his dribble. Or make him a cheese sandwich. One of the two, for sure.

Anonymous Don Paco said...
I'd noticed the Rondo dogwalks too. Most PGs do it in fourth quarter situations.

It makes me think, isn't the gain (a couple of seconds) outweighed by the potencial risks? While you're walking the dog, the bounce is really low - what if an opposing defender moves quickly to get at your PG and then the PG fumbles the ball? Anyway, most teams seem to respect dogwalking - I've hardly ever seen a situation where a dogwalking PG is blitzed by opposing defenders...

Anonymous Seth said...
I'm waiting for the day that a defender sacks up and just dives on that rolling ball. Any evidence of this ever happening?

Blogger McFruity said...
Seth -- it happened in the Nuggets-Hornets game a couple of days ago. Paul was walking the dog near the end of a quarter, and I believe it was Anthony Carter defending him. Carter dove to the ground for the steal, but as soon as Carter left his feet, Paul bent down and picked up the ball, and Carter ended up taking out Paul's feet without getting close to the ball. Carter was called for the foul, and Paul got two free throws with something like .5 seconds left in the quarter -- it was like Paul was baiting him into that steal attempt, because the Hornets' chances of scoring before the buzzer there were otherwise pretty low. Maybe this is why we don't see the defender try that more often?

Blogger Chris said...
Doesn't the league usually fine players and coaches when they criticize the refs? LeBron made an ass out of himself. His explanation of his 'crab walk' could fill a book. LeBron said straight up that it was a bad call and went on a silly little rant. Where is his damn fine??? I think "King Crab" or "King Crab Legs" should be LeBron's new nickname.

Anonymous milaz said...
@Basketbawful: My bad... I did go down, but it was too late...

On the topic - would it not be better to inbound from half court (as in time outs) when the game clock < 24?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Steve Blake leads the league in walking the dog. 5 or 6 times a game. and there's really no reason for it most of the time.

Anonymous t.j.r. said...
I remember seeing someone "walk the dog" ages ago like circa 1994 (the olden days) and get called for a foot violation I wish could find footage of this somewhere! I think it was a Charlotte game and Tyrone "Mugsy" Bogues was guarding and pressured the stupid guy into kicking it. After this i think the trend died off for awhile and only got as big as Bogues himself. Anyone else remember this?

P.S. LeBron is a terrible name.

Blogger Caleb said...
Chris Paul does do it constantly.. and a couple of nights ago against Porltand he *did* do it in cruch time. It was actually a really smart move... Chris Paul was basically daring the defender (I don't remember who it was) to try and snatch the ball, and said defender did attempt this - Paul quickly grabbed the ball and the defender bumped into Paul - leading to a foul being called on the defender. There was something awesome about that...

Blogger Caleb said...
Uh, nevermind that previous comment. It was the Denver game and I see that McFruity described it above.

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