Growing up, Roger Mason Jr. practiced the moves that were created by America’s basketball imagination. There was the crossover dribble, with the player moving the ball from one hand to the other, and the fadeaway jump shot, with the player leaping backward while shooting to create distance from the defender. But only after he became a professional did Mason decide to expand globally, adding fakes and feints and other moves that were manufactured elsewhere.
He is not alone. Players in the N.B.A. now often showcase the Euro step, a move in which a player drives past a defender by stepping one way and then quickly taking a big lateral step in the other direction. The move is a crafty way to distribute the two steps allocated to a player after he stops dribbling, and it goes right to the edge of being a traveling violation.
Mason, now with the Knicks, learned the move during his two seasons in San Antonio, where in practice he had to guard Manu Ginobili of Argentina and Tony Parker of France, both of them practitioners of the Euro step, both of them stars. Mason eventually began tinkering with the move himself.
“I think that’s why people are starting to use it, because it’s still a fresh move,” Mason said. “Everyone in the league thought it was a travel, and they never called it.”
But the Euro step is not the only import that has taken hold in the N.B.A. Argentina’s Luis Scola, of the Houston Rockets, uses a whole series of pump fakes to throw off a defender before scooping the ball into the basket. Now, other players are doing the same. Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki, who has long starred for the Dallas Mavericks, has his own shot fake, in which he raises the ball from his chest to his chin. Others have copied that, too. And N.B.A. coaches are borrowing as well, taking plays out of the notebooks of their European counterparts.