NBA fines Marcus Smart for acknowledging, not even complaining about, superstar calls

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

In the Rockets’ win over the Celtics on Saturday, Marcus Smart did well to foul James Harden only twice while guarding the MVP favorite.

Smart, via Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

“When you’re playing a guy like that who gets those types of calls, it’s pretty much like you’re playing in foul trouble,” Smart told the Globe after the game. “You’ve got to play really certain. You have to be really solid. You can’t really play the defense that you want, because you know nine times out of 10 he’s going to get those calls. It doesn’t matter whether your hands are up or not. He still gets them. We saw that here tonight a few times, and we’ve seen that every other game. He has a way of using his hands, grabbing us, pulling us into him and drawing those fouls. He’s been doing it for a long time. He gets the benefit of the doubt.”

“It happens all around the league,” Smart said. “You get certain players who get calls that other guys just wouldn’t get. We all know the rule. We all understand it. Superstars are going to be superstars. We get it. It is what it is. We’ve just got to play.”

NBA release:

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been fined $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The comments were made following the Celtics’ 123-120 loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday, March 3

This is such a weak fine.

Smart is taking the exact approach I’d want a player to take. He’s acknowledging the difficulty of guarding Harden, who is good at drawing fouls. That’s a skill, and Harden’s defenders must account for it. Smart doesn’t even sounds like he’s complaining. (OK, maybe a little.) This could be read as him complimenting Harden for his foul-drawing skills and saying that’s part of what makes him a superstar, just as Harden’s 3-point shooting is part of what makes him a superstar. It doesn’t have to be about the refs handing Harden anything.