Steve Kerr Says NBA Officiating Has Never Been Harder, Players Try to Fool Refs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2018

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 30:   Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and NBA referee Nick Buchert during the game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors on December 30, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/Getty Images

The officiating in the NBA has been a storyline throughout the 2017-18 season, and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr weighed in Monday, arguing the players aren't helping by trying to draw more foul calls. 

"They try to fool the refs," Kerr said before the Warriors' game against the New York Knicks, per the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau. "Why not? They're trying to win. They're trying to get to the foul line. But officiating is so hard, and it's never been more difficult because I think the players are taking more and more liberties."

Letourneau shared Kerr's full comments:

Connor Letourneau @Con_Chron

Steve Kerr had some interesting comments pregame on how NBA officiating has changed over the years: https://t.co/qc0QnIuZrQ

Kerr added he'd "never want to be a ref."

According to The Athletic's Anthony Slater, Kerr threw a subtle dig at Houston Rockets star James Harden, mimicking a move Harden has used to draw fouls:

Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater

Steve Kerr with a long, animated quote on what refereeing shooters used to be like compared to today -- also gets into the Harden rip move, imitatingnit https://t.co/CMsUCjsNGI

This wouldn't be the first time Kerr has been critical of Harden. In a since-deleted tweet, Kerr commented on a highlight of Harden posted by the NBA's official account, writing: "It's an embarrassment. I think the league is so happy with all the scoring that it doesn't want to enforce stuff like that."

Twitter user James Margariti shared a screenshot of the tweet:

CURRY FOR 3, BANG! @JamesMargariti

@NBA @NBAonTNT Why Steve delete this 🤔🤔🤔 https://t.co/4oAMgr7KaV

Kerr later told reporters he had intended for the comment to be a direct message on the social media platform.

Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported last September the NBA referees had become aware of Harden's tactics and attempted to clarify the rule so as to curb his attempts to try and initiate contact:

Howard Beck @HowardBeck

NBA refs cracking down on two areas this year: 1. "Reckless" closeouts (see Zaza); 2. Shooters creating contact to draw FTs (see Harden)

Howard Beck @HowardBeck

On Harden rule: Refs will be making distinction between fouls that occur on the drive or gather vs. fouls on actual shooting motion.

The "Harden Rule" has done little to cut down on Harden's trips to the charity stripe, though. The six-time All-Star still leads the league in free-throw attempts, averaging 10.1 per game. That number is down only slightly from his 10.9 free throws per game in 2016-17.