The NBA finally listened to the outcry and decided to turn back the clock on the game and make things more balanced where foul calls are concerned. The league is walking a fine line and must be careful not to reel the game back too far. Some of the more prolific scorers in the league have already been affected by the shift in officiating. While some players struggle to find themselves under the new foul rules, those with a more defense-dependent skillset (Draymond Green) have enjoyed the new rules and given them rave reviews.
“You can 100 percent feel it,” Green said. “Because you don’t have guys doing the garbage to try and draw fouls anymore. I think this game was turning into, ‘who can draw the most fouls?’ Nobody wants to watch that, and you definitely don’t want to play in a game like that. So you can feel the difference out there for sure. It’s just more pure basketball, and that’s great for our game.”
I totally agree with Green. Over the past decade, the leniency in how players could draw fouls had become downright embarrassing. One guy going to the free-throw line 20-plus times in a game is just too much. And for players like James Harden and others, this became a regular occurrence. But it feels like (at least for now) those days are no more.
But Adam Silver and the league office need to be careful how far they let their officials go with this new lax approach to what justifies a foul call and what doesn’t. I’m as big a fan of ‘90s-00s basketball as anyone, but I also realize that many fans aren’t into that style. To date, they haven’t reeled things back that far, but it could easily happen and the league needs to be aware of this, as I’m sure they are. I love that players can defend again, but we also don’t want guys being body-slammed on the court and officials looking the other way.
Already I’ve seen some egregious no-calls on plays that were clearly fouls, with a referee in perfect position to make a call. And a few of them have involved Harden. It feels like this is another attempt at removing flopping and flailing from the game. Some of the theatrical performances players have put on over the years should net them Emmy nominations at the least. And the winner for Best Dramatic Scene in a Basketball Game...
That was a blatant foul committed on Harden, yet the refs said play on. But James’ performance after the foul — tossing his hands in the air and motioning toward refs, begging for a call — is what the NBA wants to rid itself of. If players cut back on the overdramatic flopping, I think we’ll soon see the NBA approach the middle ground where they want to be. Players won’t get the ticky-tack calls of years past, but you won’t see guys mauled on the court either, like Harden’s been through the first couple weeks of the season.
If these potent offensive threats like Harden and Trae Young just hang in there and keep playing, a more acceptable balance is sure to fall into place over the next couple of months. I don’t see the NBA continuing this current pace of calling next to nothing. So, don’t worry, the superstar call will return to the league sooner or later in some form.