The Curious Case of James Harden & NBA Officiating
James harden is one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.
This is not debatable.
He made a conscious decision to leave OKC and become the #1 option in Houston to showcase his skills to the world.
And he’s done that.
He has made sacrifice. Shown a tireless work ethic in the weight room, and refining his offensive skill set.
He has expanded his game behind the arc, and become such an offensive threat in the lane, that it has expanded his repertoire to a dynamic facilitator.
And none of that will ever translate into an NBA championship.
And here’s why.
James Harden is all about James Harden.
Everyone aspect of his game is cultivated on how it benefits him.
Play defense? Can’t do that, it wastes energy I need for the offensive end of the floor.
Assist, of course. Because it offers me more opportunities to score.
Surround myself with coaches and teammates who push me to be better and hold me accountable for fundamental flaws in my approach to the game?! Absolutely Not!
James Harden does not want to be better. He does not want to be great. He wants to be The Man.
Unfortunately, at some point during James Harden’s meteoric rise to Basketball Supremacy and MVP status, the league changed.
More specifically, the league changed in how it refereed James Harden.
And in the process emasculated what could have potentially been the sharpening of an iron, the likes of which we’ve never seen.
Instead, James Harden has been relegated to the biggest cry baby/flopper the league has ever seen. Followed only by his own teammate, Chris Paul.
Now don’t get me wrong, these are word class athletes. I certainly can’t compete on the level in which they do. Nor do I have the physical skillsets in the areas they have.
But I’m also not a pussy.
You either have a kill or be killed mentality in your area of expertise, or you manipulate situations to your benefit.
Case in point, James Harden is the #1 recipient of forced fouls. Defenders are constantly in retreat, because 1) James Harden is allowed to travel like he’s floating on air, and 2) because he is a master of the push off; and even the slightest contact is immediately called a foul.
And this push off is no subtle jab. It is a blatant, deliberate forearm shive. Extended. In plan sight, and an offensive foul on any other player.
Moreover, what has become a point of contention in the second round of the western conference playoffs, is the three point “no call”.
I have to be completely transparent, I am a 38 year old. So my upbringing in basketball dates back to the mid 80’s when the game was still played with a physicality that no longer exists.
There is nothing more disrespectful to the game of basketball than a shooter being allowed to jump into a defender, flail his legs out, and fall directly on his ass in an attempt to draw a foul.
It is one of the most disturbingly obvious agendas and game plans ever devised. And the fact that the league has allowed this to take hold, is one of the great tragedies in sports history.
I remember very clearly, when this trend began.
And it started with one of the most polarizing players of all time, Kobe Bryant. Now this may have begun at another place in time, or with another player, but this is my recollection of when I became aware.
And to be fair to Mr, Bryant, it originated as the pump fake and lure the defender into you.
It was masterful, and he sold it like water to the desert.
It was a ploy, but it was a ploy within the context of how the game should be played.
And then it caught on. Then is took hold, and everyone started doing it.
To the point that even if a defender jumped straight up in the air, the shooter would hurl themselves into them, and draw the foul.
This is not basketball.
This is the evolution of a character flaw and deterioration of the game as we know it.
We are seeing some of the most phenomenal scorers, and and shooters, and athletes of all time, but we are seeing them play a game that has been tailor made to deter defense, and allow for exorbitant scoring reaching the 140’s.
This is asinine.
Of course other sports have evolved to speed up the game, to protect the players, to ensure correct calls, but the protection of players does not apply to basketball. It never has.
There is no statistical evidence that shows that any of the officiating measure that have been adopted in the last few years have done anything to ensure player safety.
It was consciously and methodically done to turn the game into a tissue soft highlight reel.
Metaphorically speaking, it is verging on becoming a season long version of the Pro Bowl or NBA All Star Game. Just one big fuck you to dedicated fans and the forefathers of the game.
Again, the competition of the regular season games and playoffs is as intense as ever, but many of these games hinge on whether or not the game can be played on both ends because of the style of officiating.
At the end of the day, the League is responsible for this.
But unfortunately James Harden has become the poster boy for this epidemic based on his high profile, and taking this style play to an irreparable extreme.
While this may make for a game that is more appealing to the powder puff highlight driven generation, it leaves most fans and former athletes shaking their heads and wondering how the fuck we ended up here.
Oh, and Michael Jordan is still the greatest!!!!