San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game Two

NBA competition committee recommending expansion of instant replay to include block/charge calls


The NBA’s competition committee met Wednesday in San Antonio, and is making recommendations on expanding instant replay to include a few more potentially critical situations, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The bigger news, however, is that this is the first time that the league would allow plays that are judgment calls made by the officials to be potentially overturned following video review. To this point, only plays that have an objectively factual conclusion — such as whether a player’s feet were or were not in the restricted area, or which team touched the ball last before it went out of bounds — have been the subject of replay reviews.

Block/charge calls in late-game situations would be added to instant replay under the committee’s recommendation, as would off-the-ball fouls on inbounds plays and on made free throws.

While review is a good thing generally speaking, it’s tough to see how the block/charge was the one that made the cut. We’re talking about a play which is almost always 50-50 in real time, and it’s usually tough to tell even after multiple viewings which way it should have been whistled. It would be easy to see the referee who originally made the call sticking to it in an extremely high percentage of reviewable instances.

If the league truly wants to give the referees the ability to check their work, they should make all fouls in the last two minutes of the game eligible to be reviewed if two of the three officials on the floor have a question about a potentially game-changing call. Now that the door has been opened for judgment calls to be potentially added to the replay queue, it’s no longer impossible to envision.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.