James Haren is having one of the most dominant offensive performances in NBA history, yet he is not getting the praise and accolades that you’d expect come with it. His numbers are spectacular, but the eye test is not.
Not only that, most of the current and former players have skepticism about his style of play. His latest confrontation with Scott Foster who called four offensive fouls on Harden encapsulated a perception of his game – his success is predicated on traveling and foul hunting.
As much as the NBA is trying to convince us his step back isn’t a travel and getting fouled is also a skill, the majority of us feel it’s against the spirit of the game. It may be legal, but it’s not right. That’s a sentiment all too familiar in life.
The legends have started to chime in, and Harden’s All-Star PR push didn’t do the trick. Scottie Pippen commented his public criticism of the ref on “The Jump”:
I think he (Scott Foster) does a good job of refereeing Harden. I’ve seen Harden take advantage of guys on defense, banging into them. Other officials have given him those calls, and that’s a credit to Scott Foster. Being a veteran official, and knowing how to call the game.
There you go, Scottie is taking Foster’s side on this, and so did Windhorst and Nichols. They pointed out Rockets are 6 – 6 when Foster was calling their games in the past two years and that he is regularly a top 5 ranked official in the NBA.
More importantly for the Rockets, Foster’s regular season criteria is how most refs will call playoff games. Two main changes from regular season to playoffs is the rotations get shorter, and the refs don’t whistle every contact, especially after you attack a colleague so publicly.
For a team that has so much depended on getting referee calls, that is a bigger problem than Scott Foster. All those bogus fouls will not be there, meaning fewer points on from the charity stripe, and equally crucial for the Rockets, not as much in-game rest for Harden and Paul.
Even if Foster has a bias against them, their most significant problems are still within their roster, not outside of it.