James Harden Responds to Ty Lue's Criticisms: 'Free Throws Are Part of the Game'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 12, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 27: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers prepares to shoot a free throw during the game against the Phoenix Suns on March 27, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. 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 2022 NBAE (Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden had a message for Los Angeles Clippers head coach Ty Lue: Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Complex's Zion Olojede asked Harden about comments Lue made about his free-throw shooting earlier in the year. The 10-time All-Star said they rolled off his back:

"I don’t even pay attention to it. Free throws are a part of the game. You look at who leads the league, Joel and Giannis, what about if you take away their free throws? I don’t understand what that comment meant. Free throws are a part of the game. It’s on the defense to have discipline and not foul. That’s what coaches should be teaching their players. For me I don’t pay attention to it, I just try to go out there and make an impact on the game in a positive way every night."

Prior to a game against the Sixers in March, Lue remarked how Harden and Embiid are consistently able to draw fouls. He added he saw a stat supposedly laying out how neither player would be a top-10 scorer if their free throws were removed from the equation.

Tomer Azarly @TomerAzarly

Here’s Ty Lue’s full pregame comments on Sixers stars Joel Embiid and James Harden, some of which were taken out of context before last night’s game. <a href="https://t.co/1aOQGdNtUK">pic.twitter.com/1aOQGdNtUK</a>

The context got stripped away a bit, especially after Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey responded on social media. Lue wasn't so much criticizing Harden or Embiid as he was speaking on how the two are so difficult to stop when they have the ball in their hands.

Especially after landing with the Houston Rockets, Harden learned how to exploit the referee's whistle. His rip-through move was so effective that the NBA tweaked the rules in 2017 so that he couldn't deploy it with as much ease.

Harden's 7,044 made free throws are the ninth-most all-time and make him second behind LeBron James among active players.

The NBA's new rules of emphasis undoubtedly impacted Harden a bit, yet he has still knocked down an average of 7.2 shots per game from the charity stripe this year. It's safe to say that the 32-year-old won't deviate from his plan of attack anytime soon.