James Harden Has 'Unfairly' Become 'Poster Boy' for New Foul Rules, Says Nets' Nash

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVOctober 25, 2021

BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 19: Head Coach Steve Nash of the Brooklyn Nets talks to James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks during Round 2, Game 7 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 19, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash voiced his opinion on some of the NBA's new foul rules and how James Harden has been perceived as one of the intended targets of the initiative.

"I feel like he's unfairly become the poster boy of not calling these fouls," Nash told reporters following the Nets' 111-95 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. "Some of them are definitely fouls still."

Harden concurred with the assessment:

Nets Videos @SNYNets

"I just ask officials to call what they see"<br><br>James Harden says he feels like the "poster boy" of the NBA's rule changes, but adds, "I'm not the type to complain about it" <a href="https://t.co/VRg170JN8B">pic.twitter.com/VRg170JN8B</a>

Alex Schiffer @Alex__Schiffer

James Harden on the rule change: “It’s still basketball. A foul is a foul…for me you have to keep going.” Concurs with Nash on being the poster boy, but says it can’t be an excuse. Has asked refs to call what they see.

Prior to the 2021-22 season, the NBA announced it was instructing referees to avoid calling fouls in situations where the offensive player attempts to draw a call with a non-basketball move.

The league office shared a number of examples:

NBA Official @NBAOfficial

The non-basketball move highlighted in this segment shows a shooter launching or leaning into a defender at an abnormal angle. <a href="https://t.co/4bChPtIHWI">pic.twitter.com/4bChPtIHWI</a>

NBA Official @NBAOfficial

In this non-basketball move, the offensive player overtly extends a portion of his body into a defender. <a href="https://t.co/4vbW1wyRtr">pic.twitter.com/4vbW1wyRtr</a>

Back in 2017, Harden was firmly in the NBA sights when it cracked down on the rip-through motion he used to consistently draw fouls during his shooting motion. The 2017-18 MVP wasn't the only player who utilized the rip-through move, but he was far and away the biggest example.

In this case, Harden is one of many dynamic scorers who have sought ways to game the system a bit to earn the referee's whistle. Trae Young was just as guilty, if not more so, and his tactics led Nash to tell referees, "That's not basketball," during a game between the Nets and Atlanta Hawks.

Through three games, Harden is averaging 18.3 points and 3.0 free-throw attempts. Early on, he seems to be struggling in the NBA's new normal.

But the nine-time All-Star will inevitably adapt, and perhaps he'll devise a new way to push the rulebook to its limits.