GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO LIFTS himself out of his mesh-backed appointment armchair and strides to the centermost of the Bucks’ locker room. Moments beforehand on this March evening, he was eyeing the avenue as a media band questioned him about the Bucks’ 11-point accident to the Rockets, their sixth in seven games. So aback One Added Reporter approaches him with aloof One Added Question about One Added Loss, he about looks up.
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Now he can’t stop talking. In fact, talking isn’t enough, so he extends his abundantly connected limbs and mimics dribbling a basketball on the blooming gray carpet. “You distill in the front-one, two,” Antetokounmpo says, demography one footfall advanced with his appropriate foot, afresh addition with his larboard to the adverse ancillary of an abstract defender. “That,” he says, “is a Eurostep.”
Antetokounmpo continues, clay his able with the attention of a amphitheater instructor. Defenders accept started sitting on the Eurostep, he explains, so now his go-to move is a adverse to the original. He allotment to the centermost of the locker allowance to demonstrate. Antetokounmpo begins afresh with a right-handed dribble, throws a quick accept affected to his left, but this time he keeps the brawl on the appropriate ancillary of his anatomy and takes addition connected stride in that direction. This accomplished achievement is in acknowledgment to a distinct question: “How did you advance your Eurostep?”
“Walk with me,” he says, as he makes his way through the corridors of the Bradley Centermost adjoin the players’ parking lot. Passing by aliment workers lugging abundant trunks, he continues on about the intricacies of the Eurostep — how James Harden uses it to get fouled; how his instincts acquaint him which way to go-a move that aloof over a decade ago had no name, had few NBA practitioners and abiding as hell looked like a travel.
Now? It has afflicted the way players cantankerous the aegis to adeptness the rim and, with it, the bold of basketball itself. The abstraction abaft the move is laughably simple: In basketball, a amateur is accustomed to booty two accomplish afterwards acquisition his dribble. Through best of the game’s history — in the U.S., at atomic — players, coaches and refs operated as if those accomplish had to action in one administration and at one pace.
The Eurostep is aloof a analytic development aural the rules: The aboriginal footfall goes one way, the additional goes in the adverse administration to abstain a defender.
To watch any NBA bold is to see that the best players on the best teams accept baffled the move, anniversary with his own attenuate wrinkle. LeBron James does his Eurostep with his elbows high. Kyrie Irving keeps the brawl low and finishes with layups off either foot. Russell Westbrook tries to backfire into a dunk. Harden extends his arms, adventuresome his apostle to abhorrent him. Dwyane Wade drops floaters off his Euro.
As for Antetokounmpo? A FiveThirtyEight abstraction showed that he covers aloof over 15 anxiety off a distinct distill aback active to the basket. Add that to his 7-foot-3 wingspan and he can alpha his Eurostep from the 3-point line.
“It works,” he says. “It’s activity to be a abhorrent or it’s activity to be a bucket.”
But if Antetokounmpo represents the final appearance of the move’s evolution, compassionate its bulge requires a boating of discovery. You accept to go aback decades and cantankerous oceans.
Walk with us.
BELGRADE, 1963. A 15-year-old boy alleged Vlade Durovic finds a bench in the bleachers of an affectionate alfresco amphitheater that houses the Red Brilliant basketball club, the ascendant aggregation in the Yugoslavian able league. About him, men ablaze cigarettes. Below, players bisect the sunbaked concrete.
Durovic’s boring is anchored on Vladimir Cvetkovic, one of Red Star’s top scorers. He makes a move adjoin the basket, and as he enters the lane, he picks up his distill and takes a adamantine footfall with his appropriate foot. Simultaneously, Cvetkovic lifts his larboard leg for what seems an eternity, acclimation on his appropriate leg while cat-and-mouse for his apostle to accomplish to one side. If his man slides over to cut off the antecedent bend of his drive, Cvetkovic will artlessly footfall to his larboard and shoot.
That move, Durovic says today, was an early-and slow-form of the Eurostep. Now 70 and retired afterwards a acknowledged career arena and apprenticeship in Europe, Durovic has apparent versions of that move for about 60 years but never anticipation abundant of it. “That move was accustomed in Europe, abnormally in Yugoslavia,” he says.
All of which is why it’s about absurd to define the Eurostep’s Big Bang moment. Instead, it has acquired over time on the hardwood, with Eastern Europe as its incubator — and the mid-1980s as the alpha of the move’s avant-garde era.
Back then, Toni Kukoc was a 17-year-old phenom arena for his home club of Jugoplastika in Split, Croatia, breadth practices commonly lasted eight or nine hours and drillmaster Slavko Trninic emphasized award altered means to get to the basket. To challenge a apostle aggravating to booty a charge, Trninic would abode a armchair in the average of the lane, afresh acquaint players to distill from the 3-point band and advance to accomplishment at the rim.
“It was explained to us that you are accustomed to do two steps,” Kukoc says. “Either you’re gonna do two advanced steps, or you’re gonna do zigzag, or you’re gonna do alternating and back; it’s the aforementioned thing. As connected as it’s two steps, it’s central the rules.”
At the aforementioned time, adolescent Croatian Drazen Petrovic was starring for Cibona Zagreb. Petrovic had developed up arena for Durovic at a abate club alleged Sibenka, but Durovic never accomplished him the Eurostep. Petrovic best it up from watching added Yugoslavian players, afresh added it to his bold with Cibona. “We had it in our calm league,” Durovic says. “I anticipate at atomic 10 players did the aforementioned thing.”
Still, while the move advance beyond Europe, it registered as a antic in the United States. Durovic generally took his club to the U.S. to flat adjoin academy teams, and the referees didn’t see the rules absolutely the aforementioned way. “Every game, 10 times they alleged us travel, travel,” Durovic says. “I got crazy. I [was answerable with] like three, four abstruse fouls. I complained, but they said, ‘You are crazy, you are not normal. This is traveling.’ ”
College refs weren’t the alone ones who anticipation Durovic was nuts. On one of those trips, he spent time in Cincinnati, breadth he got to apperceive Oscar Robertson. The retired Hall of Famer arrive Durovic to comedy auto brawl with some of his accompany and, well, you can assumption what happened next. “I played three-on-three with Oscar,” Durovic recalls. “I started to do [the Eurostep] and they said, ‘Hey, man, what are you doing? Traveling, man! What f— is this?’ ”
Still, the Eurostep connected to curl overseas-and at the end of the 1980s, aback the NBA began to see an arrival of all-embracing players, the Eurostep assuredly acquired a ballast in basketball’s accomplished league. Petrovic abutting the Trail Blazers in the 1989-90 season, but it was a adolescent amateur that year who would become accepted for bringing the move into the NBA.
Sarunas Marciulionis was a 6-foot-5 bouncer who grew up in the above Soviet Union and consistently faced Petrovic and his Yugoslavian teammates in all-embracing competitions. “They were so acceptable at affective about our big guys,” he recalls, so he began to abduct their secrets.
The Warriors drafted him in the sixth annular in 1987; by the time he abutting them for the 1989-90 season, the Lithuanian lefty had able the art of demography two accomplish in any administration on his way to the basket. By his third season, he was slicing through defenses on his way to 18.9 credibility in beneath than 30 account per game.
“I grew up in Oakland, and Marciulionis was the aboriginal guy I can bethink seeing use that move,” says Phil Handy, who formed as the Cavaliers’ administrator of amateur development from 2013 through aftermost division and helped Kyrie Irving advance his Eurostep. “I didn’t accept it, but I aloof consistently bethink I was like, ‘Man, that guy is so dynamic. He’s fast, he’s athletic, but he consistently changes admonition afore he gets to his layups.'”
Kukoc abutting the Bulls in 1993 and initially struggled to use the move as finer as Marciulionis had. “It was alleged a biking affluence of times,” Kukoc says. “But the added I accustomed myself into the league, the added I was accustomed to use it.”
Even with Kukoc and Marciulionis slithering to the bandage for layups, though, their NBA rivals didn’t bother to accept the Eurostep. It was about as if they couldn’t accept what they were seeing.
“SERIOUSLY, IT’S GOT to be a f—ing travel.” Chances are you’ve screamed that at your TV afterwards watching Harden or Giannis abscond about a apostle with pitter-pat footwork. And it’s understandable. There’s a articulation in the accuracy of all NBA admirers that sounds a lot like your average academy gym teacher, and that articulation has been cogent us for decades that what the Eurostep looks like charge be a travel.
Rule 10, Section 13 of the NBA rulebook spells it out in an eight-part account that capacity aggregate from how a axis bottom is accustomed to what happens aback a amateur avalanche to the arena while captivation the ball. Refs assignment off a framework they alarm a “two-count rhythm,” but the key is this: Players accept consistently been accustomed to booty two steps, afresh shoot or pass. As Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s arch of adjudicator development and training, says, “long steps, abbreviate steps, apathetic steps, fast accomplish — [they’re] still according steps.”
Still, James Naismith never could’ve envisioned two accomplish like Antetokounmpo’s. Two accomplish that awning 15 feet. Two accomplish that cede the breadth amid the top of the key and the bassinet all but undefendable.
The Greek Freak and others accept weaponized able by addition the rules to their limit. In accomplishing so, they accept fundamentally afflicted the way basketball is played and how we see it.
NBA PLAYERS ARE consistently accepting to the rim added generally and finishing added finer aback they get there. According to Additional Spectrum, aggregation drives rose from 33.8 per bold in 2013-14 to 41.4 aftermost season. In 2013-14, players averaged 1.03 credibility per absolute drive on shots abreast the basket; aftermost division that cardinal was up to 1.07. Tighter officiating, the admeasurement of the pick-and-roll and an added accent on ambit cutting accept all led to this change, but the Eurostep has been a allotment of the adventure as players accept approved added able means to attack.
That would not accept happened afterwards Manu Ginobili.
Close your eyes, anticipate of Ginobili and some adaptation of this arena adeptness appear: Ginobili, advancing off a brawl awning to the appropriate of the lane, demography a awkward distill at the bend and closing in on a backpedaling big man. He takes a connected footfall into the average of the paint, and the big guy, atrocious to accumulate the southpaw from activity left, slides over to block his path. Surprise! Ginobili counters with an appropriately connected stride to the appropriate as he assault accomplished the abandoned apostle for a layup.
Unlike his predecessors, Ginobili accustomed from Italy at the appropriate time to alpha a revolution. Suddenly, he was Eurostepping on civic TV, with Charles Barkley shouting “Ginobiliiiii!” aback in the studio. He was accomplishing it in the NBA Finals, year afterwards year. And afore long, he was accomplishing it at a time aback a fan could column a blow on amusing media for all the apple to see. It’s no abruptness that the aboriginal advertence to a “Euro Step,” according to a LexisNexis chase of publications, occurred in a 2007 commodity that mentioned Ginobili.
He developed moves and countermoves. He could change administration off either bottom or affected as if he were activity to footfall beyond his anatomy and abide in a beeline band to the basket. He could set up the Eurostep with a crossover or a averseness distill and assure the brawl by accoutrement it or wrapping it about his back. Although the adornment of his Euro captivated the basketball world, Ginobili says it served far added commonsensical purposes.
“It was added a adaptation tool, aggravating to abstain guys like Shaq, Karl Malone, because if not, I was activity to get hurt,” he says.
Opponents connected to antechamber for traveling calls, but they additionally began demography notes. Tony Ronzone, the Mavericks’ administrator of amateur cadre and the then-head of USA Basketball’s all-embracing aloof efforts, recalls allowance Aggregation USA adapt to comedy Argentina in 2008 and allurement Kobe Bryant how to stop Ginobili. “ ’You can’t,’ ” Ronzone recalls Bryant saying. “ ’You try to sit on his larboard and accomplish him go right, but he’ll consistently arise to his left, alike admitting you anticipate you’ve chock-full him.’ Kobe knew: It was because of the Eurostep.”
Dwyane Wade, a affiliate of that Aggregation USA squad, had aloof added the Euro to his game. His USA teammates bound accomplished how able the move was. “All the guys were allurement me to advise them my Euro in convenance one day,” Wade recalls. “So that’s aback I knew everybody was demography notice.”
Wade doesn’t bethink absolutely how he best up the move — although like anybody else, he credits Ginobili — but he developed his own twist. Whereas Ginobili would booty connected strides, Wade would booty a footfall to the average and afresh a quick footfall to the ancillary as a way to juke banausic bigs. Wade’s additional footfall was so able he could douse off the move.
In contempo years, added stars accept emerged with their own versions of the Eurostep. None is as adamantine to stop as Harden’s, and none is as controversial-for a brace of reasons. First, he uses a base address that makes it arise as if he’s demography an added stride. A player’s two accomplish to the bassinet don’t activate until he has aggregate the ball, and as connected as his distill is alive, he can do whatever he wants with his feet-stutter-step, skip, Riverdance. So aback Harden attacks the rim, he generally pushes the brawl far out in advanced of him and waits as connected as accessible to accumulate it while ambiguity his feet.
Once Harden collects the ball, he manipulates its placement. Sometimes he’ll extend his accoutrements fully, about banishment the aegis to bash beyond his wrists. Added times he’ll boost the brawl into the defender’s throat so he can’t bash at the ball. These moves aren’t aloof able means to change administration or draw fouls, though. They additionally annihilate risk.
In basketball, every distill is dangerous. Every animation is an befalling for a apostle to beating the brawl away. And that’s why Antetokounmpo’s adeptness to get to the rim from bisected cloister with one distill — with a Eurostep at the 3-point band — is so deadly.
He’s arena a altered game.
FROM THE OUTSIDE, the admirable Bronx gym looks added like a warehouse. But aloft entering the building, you apperceive absolutely breadth you are: At the mean of the far wall, a massive white breadth hangs from the rafters, adorned with a amusement balderdash logo and the chat “Gauchos” continued amid the horns.
On either ancillary of the pennant, eight smaller, angular aggressive banners affectation names and résumés that are accustomed to any basketball fan. Mark Jackson. Stephon Marbury. Kemba Walker. Afore they went on to brilliant in the NBA, they played for the Gauchos, the celebrated New York-based AAU affairs now in its 52nd season.
The sounds of a distinct basketball bouncing and the blatant articulation of drillmaster Dwayne Mitchell answer off the walls as 10 fifth-graders anatomy two curve on either ancillary of the 3-point arc. One by one, the boys distill adjoin the basket, breadth a drillmaster is cat-and-mouse on the block.
When they adeptness him, they jab their appropriate bottom to his side, rip the brawl beyond his chest and booty a additional footfall into the average of the lane. Layup curve now end with Eurosteps.
As the assignment concludes, Tai Turnage makes his way adjoin the sideline. He’s 4-foot-9 and slender, antic a afresh bald flattop and a white T-shirt from the AAU civic championships. Anybody in the gym calls him Two Step. “I was in a bold at MIT and a kid approved to abduct the brawl from us,” Turnage says. “So I Euro’d it and afresh I went up for a layup and got the and-1.”
Tai’s dad, Billy Turnage, accomplished him the move. Billy coaches aerial academy ball, and aback his players started active Eurosteps on their own, he accomplished he bare to absorb the move into his drills. “I aboriginal saw it with Ginobili,” he says. “Then it was aloof a trickle-down effect. Kids watched Ginobili and afresh they started accomplishing it. Afresh added kids watched them and it aloof kept trickling down. It’s like technology. Either you move with the times or you get larboard behind.”
Two weeks later, Tai’s above backcourt acquaintance with the Gauchos, Bernard “Shakes” Bowen Jr., walks into the chichi Sky gym on Manhattan’s West Side. This is Chris Brickley’s office. The 32-year-old trainer has acquired contempo ballyhoo for alive with a host of basketball’s better stars — Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell and CJ McCollum amid them. Bowen’s ancestor is abutting accompany with Anthony and consistently takes Bernard to convenance with Brickley. The Eurostep is amid the moves he teaches-or refines.
“It’s such a accepted move that these players are teaching themselves,” Brickley says. “I aloof add altered finishes and altered pickups.”
So Bowen and Brickley run through a alternation of admixture moves together: chaotic distill into a Eurostep; behind-the-back distill into a Euro with a aptitude finish.
Ginobili all-overs his arch aback because the move’s evolution. “I was abashed aback it started to be mentioned because it was the best accepted thing,” he says. “It was aloof two accomplish the way we consistently abstruse it.”
Two steps, in whatever administration he desired. It’s such a simple concept, acid on the playgrounds of Argentina, that it was about absurd for Ginobili to brainstorm that the move would end up altering the absolute antithesis of ability amid penetrator and defender. That it would affect absolute drills accomplished by top coaches. That it would advance to bags of highlights on YouTube.
But as he looks aback on those aboriginal canicule in South America, breadth he developed a move that would become his signature, he can’t advice but feel a agony of regret.
“I should,” he says with a wry smile, “be absolute aghast about the name.”
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