by Alex Poletti
Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Realizing how much of the game was spent watching James Harden shoot free throws during a 135-133 double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA announced this morning that from here on out, the referees will just give the 2017-2018 MVP 24 points for free throws at the start of the game to avoid the delays from all his fouls.
“We all love James Harden,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver says half-sincerely, “but when players foul him, I don’t want to watch the guy sit at the free-throw line for thirty minutes. Instead, we’re just going to give him the points at the beginning and ignore the 84 fouls against him during the game.”
The decision has been more or less accepted by the league, as the other teams realize that the seven-time All-Star will draw fouls no matter what the opposing team does. This is good news for The Beard, who scored almost half of his 50 points from the foul line, despite taking 38 shots in 49 minutes.
“This takes a lot of pressure off me, I’ll admit,” Harden says. “Now, I can continue to shoot 11-38 every game and still pretend I’m good at basketball.”
Harden, who is currently averaging an eye-popping 39.5 points per game, has developed a reputation for taking any shot he can, with varying levels of success. Luckily, he is pretty much guaranteed to shoot 14 free throws every time he takes the court.
Now that players know their actions against Harden will be ignored on the court, as he is given is foul points before the clock starts, the game plan is bound to change. The Raptors, who play Harden on the Rockets on Thursday, have already started to change their strategy.
“If I can’t draw any fouls for how I play against him and he still has a size advantage over me, I’ll be doing something different for sure,” Toronto shooting guard Fred VanVleet says. “I’m going to knife James Harden.”
While this is certainly good news for Harden, it comes with a bit of poignancy, as his career as an NBA player looks to continue with his automatic 24 points a night.
“It’s a little sad, to be honest,” Harden says. “I was looking to explore other business ventures in the future. Because Russell Westbrook and I were so bad from three-point range last night we realized we had enough bricks to start our own construction company. I don’t think the bricking is going to stop any time soon, so maybe we can still do that on the side.”