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Kenny Atkinson: Spying scandal? Not in the NBA. It’s all legal!

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Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Different sports have different rules and what’s illegal —indeed a scandal— in one is common in another.

So the baseball sign-stealing scandal that’s engulfed multiple teams in the MLB has been met with shrugs in the NBA. Sign stealing? Happens all the time, as Kenny Atkinson explained to Stefan Bondy.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said there’s three layers of sign stealing in the NBA and they’re all legal. Advanced scouts — who spy the opposition during games days before the matchup against his team — will sit behind the bench and try to pick up plays. Then during the game, Atkinson said assistant coaches will watch him for clues. Players have a role in stealing plays as well.

“And then there’s Chris Paul,” Atkinson said. “He knows everything and he calls it out before you do it.”

Is it effective? Atkinson sort of doubts it, noting that a lot of NBA play is read-and-react. But he acknowledged to Bondy that there are two exceptions.

“I think end of game, it’s more important, like, ‘Hey they’re running two-down, it’s two guys at the elbow. You know the play.’ You’ve scouted the play and you know how to take it away,” Atkinson said. “I think end-of-game and I think in the playoffs, too.”

Brett Brown, the Sixers head coach, noted that an opponent who gets into a gym with a camera during practice could be a problem ... and that IS illegal.

“If you’re in a shootaround in a morning and I was going through a ‘catch-shot-need-3’ play — when we’re down 3 points, there’s 2 seconds left, and this is the play we’ve practiced and this is the play we’re going to run. We practice that, and if they film that, there’s an advantage.”

Nobody wants spies in the gym getting an advantage either for that game or down the line. A side note: The Nets cleared the bowl of Barclays Center at around 1 p.m. Saturday so that Kevin Durant could work out. Just sayin’.