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Dragan Bender dribbling a basketball is breaking the internet

Dragan Bender #35 of the Phoenix Suns plays the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 25, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Dragan Bender doesn’t have a superb rep.

The 21-year-old Phoenix Suns forward entered the league as a super young import and No. 4 overall draft pick. He’s been jerked around from small forward, to power forward, to center as he’s grown into his lanky frame. He’s dealt with roster turnover and coaching staff changes.

Quietly, he’s come into his own this year. No matter what you see him as and no matter the meager box scores he produces, he’s at least competent having gotten over what appeared to be a confidence issue in his first two seasons.

Bender even put an alley-oop on a dude’s head Wednesday in a loss to the Utah Jazz.

But no, Dragan Bender apparently can’t have nice things.

What went viral Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning was Bender grabbing a loose ball and dribbling up the court before referees whistled a 5-on-2 Suns break dead. Apparently, Dragan Bender is not allowed to dribble.

But despite what you might think of Dragan Bender — people seem to love the “ha-ha he’ll be great next year … in Europe!” jokes — you also know that this play is not a travel as the official called it.

It’s also not a double-dribble, which the ref attempted to change his ruling to.

That’s a standard move where a dribbler readies his off-hand to make an outlet pass, hesitating to give his bunched-up teammates more time to space themselves out as a fastbreak develops. It’s a change-of-speed move that’s helpful and arguably advanced for a 7-footer leading a break.

But no. Not allowed for Bender.

NBA Twitter, a sometimes harsh place, can’t even knock him for that.

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