Virginia, Auburn, and the Ty Jerome Clause

I knew it. After watching countless hours of basketball, I knew it when I saw it. As soon as Ty Jerome picked up the ball after it bounced off his foot from a failed behind-the-back dribble, I was screaming for Tony Bennett to call a timeout with Jerome having nowhere to go. But then it happened. Ty Jerome, who had played a ridiculously good game to that point, did not even think about his next move, but immediately started dribbling back up the court. Concurrently, I began screaming for a double-dribble to be called. Now, I did not have a particular side in this game. I enjoyed watching both teams and my outrage over the missed call was simply due to my stance as a basketball purist. I don’t want to talk about that last play, because everyone outside of the city limits of Auburn pretty much agrees that Samir Doughty bumped Kyle Guy mid-air for a deserving call. It’s that double dribble I want to focus on, and specifically why it was not called.


That official watching that play undoubtedly had a difficult decision to make. Sure, looking back it was pretty clear that Bryce Brown did not touch the ball as Jerome dribbled it off his foot, but Brown was still swiping at him, which probably made the ref ponder whether or not he had deflected the ball. So there’s already some doubt in this guys’ mind. But then it happens, Jerome picks up the ball and without second thought puts the ball back down on the ground to advance forward. The confidence with which he made this move was what mattered. Jerome believed that he every right to dribble again, and so the ref believed him as well. His thought process was probably something like this, “Well this guys seems like he knows what he doing, so he probably didn’t do anything wrong.”

I was listening to Mark Titus and Tate Frazier on One Shining Podcast when they brought up this point. It was such a brilliant insight that it made me think, this is true in all of sports, isn’t it. You can get away with things if you act like there’s nothing wrong with what you did. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Ty Jerome Clause – When a sports player is not called for a blatantly obvious foul or violation due to acting as if what they did was completely legal.

Now I know this happens a lot in sports on the minor scale, but what are some famous examples? The stuff that makes every sports fan over forty jump out of their seats screaming for justice, followed by a monologue about how sports used to be so much better in the olden days. Here are the things I came up with:


  • The Giannis Euro-Step Dunk where he takes three steps without dribbling, but the ref is so enamored with how awesome it looks that he keeps his whistle silent
  • LeBron’s patented “switch pivot feet as I back someone down into post”
  • James’ Harden’s step back shuffle
  • Cory Littleton’s pass interference against the Saints in the playoffs, where he later admitted to the penalty, but on the field boasted confidence in what he had done
  • The no call pass interference that decided the Ravens-49ers Super Bowl
  • LeBron’s obvious travel in the 4th quarter of Game 7 of the 2016 finals, where he jumped to make a pass and landed before he threw it (as you can tell I’m still bitter considering I’m probably only one of three people who remember this happened)
  • In general, pretty much all modern NBA moves, as Adam Silver is so desperate to please the players that he has made up things like “a gather dribble” and “continuation without pickup”. It’s ridiculous the amount of crappy AAU moves that players treat as normal these days.
  • Michael Jordan’s infamous push off in 1998
  • Shaq and LeBron pretending that they don’t step over the line on every one of their foul shots
  • Iverson’s Crossovers (he carries the ball in half of them)
  • In the “Band on the Field” game, the guy who looks like he was probably down after three Stanford players jumped on him, yet pitches the ball to a Cal teammate anyways
  • Kam Chancellor punching the football out of the back of the endzone in that week two Monday night game against the Lions


A lot of these instances are basketball related, which speaks to the nature of the game. Bill Simmons said it best, “The secret of basketball is that it’s not about basketball.” That play Saturday night wasn’t about Ty Jerome accidentally hitting his back heel as he attempted to cross half-court, it was about how he didn’t panic, how he didn’t let any emotion or doubt drip on to his facial expression. He won the game because he convinced the official that his demeanor justified his action. With one extra dribble, the Ty Jerome clause was born. 

Virginia won the title last night, surviving a thrilling back and forth game with Texas Tech. After all the unfair, cheesy hate they received from casual basketball fans for last year’s failure, Virginia was vindicated. They survived a scarily reminiscent first half scare against 16 seed Gardner-Webb, beat Oregon because the Ducks shot like crap, beat Purdue on the most miraculous and well-orchestrated missed free throw I’ve ever seen, stole a game from Auburn with the Ty Jerome Clause, and somehow dropped eighty five points on the best college basketball defense of the last thirty years. In the words of Michael Scott, “Well, well, well, how the turntables.”