The NBA’s Problem: Players or Officials?
The Harden Rule: "For jump shots, the shooting motion starts when the offensive player starts to bring the ball upward toward the basket."
James Harden is a master at drawing fouls, much to the chagrin of every fan of a team not based in Houston. Last year, Harden would get fouls by going into his shooting motion when a defender reached his hand out, thus causing contact and drawing a shooting foul. Kevin Durant used to do his patented “Rip Through” technique, where he would swing his arms when a defender was near and draw a foul. The critics of these techniques were adamant: Offensive player is initiating contact, how is that a defensive foul? The NBA changed the rules, and now we have the Harden Rule. The NBA has shown that it will listen to criticism.
The critics are not always the fans though. This year the players are the ones that are heavily criticizing the officials. The Association’s defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, are among the league leaders in technical fouls, with Draymond Green being the main culprit. Even Kevin Durant is getting his fair share, and veteran Shaun Livingston got into an on court confrontation with an official.
Who is to blame for the heightened tension between the refs and the players? There is blame that can be put on both sides. The players need to respect the referees, and the refs need to understand the high emotion of competition. There is a middle ground that both sides need to find. Which is why during All-Star weekend, representatives from both the NBA Player’s Union and the Referees Union met to sort it out. Will the relationship improve? We will see in the second half of the NBA season.