The Houston Rockets have been the talk of the NBA after word came out that the team had been doing data analysis on specific foul calls in relation to the Golden State Warriors.
Whole thing smelled like sour grapes, particularly after Houston had lost Game 1 of their second-round series to the Warriors on Sunday.
Given that Houston has both Chris Paul and James Harden, their complaints about referee officiating has seemed a touch disingenuous. Of course, now folks are starting to ask other players around league about Rockets.
According to Golden State’s Kevin Durant, he doesn’t feel as though Harden is cheating the rules of the game.
“I wouldn’t say that he has an advantage,” Durant said after the morning shootaround before Game 2 on Tuesday night. “I think everybody, once they get into the lane, they use little tricks to try to get their shots off. I don’t think he’s any different.
“He may bump guys off going to the rim, but everybody does that. I wouldn’t say that he’s found a way to … cheat the rules. I wouldn’t say that. I just think that he has his style of play. It might not be what everybody likes to see, but it’s been effective. And I don’t think he’s been cheating the game at all.”
Durant was teammates with Harden in Oklahoma City, and the Warriors forward no doubt has a couple of tricks up his sleeve that he’d like to continue to go unnoticed by officials. No need to draw ire here.
And the problem is not that Harden is cheating the rules. In fact, in large part Harden, Paul, and several other superstars are explicitly not cheating the rules, but their results have fans groaning about the flow and spirit of the game. They’re taking advantage of specific sight lines and issues that referees have as they try to officiate a game that has grown stronger, faster, and smarter.
It’s been put forth that all the tricks that Harden and players of his ilk have learned over time have made them believe that they should get certain calls in situations due to the patterns referees have allowed them. That doesn’t mean that some of those calls are, altruistically, fouls.
In short, Harden seems to get upset every offseason because he can no longer manufacture foul calls on the same moves he did in the regular season. Whether that’s fair or not is up for interpretation.
The referees have been a constant source of conversation over the course of these playoffs with just how poorly they’ve performed, especially with an audience at home that can watch instant replays and see the right call nearly in real time.
The NBA will need to address the situation with the referees during the off-season. For now, the league does not agree with Houston’s methodology and how they believe they’ve been unfairly disadvantaged by the boys in gray.