UPDATED 1:45 p.m. ET: Even before The Last Two Minute Report comes out, the official account for NBA referees responded to the Harden move on Twitter, and explained they missed his third step. It should have been a travel. Everyone with eyeballs was right.
See original story below:
James Harden continued to rile the internet and basketball purists alike when he dropped 47 points on the Jazz in a close 102-97 win Monday night in Clutch City. He got to the charity stripe for 16 free throws, similar to his 19 free throws against the Lakers during his 51-point triple-double late last week. While that constant time at the line irritates impatient millennial fans who think basketball should move as fast as they scroll through their Instagram accounts, it was nothing compared to the three free throws Harden drew on Ricky Rubio after perhaps the first-ever double-step-back with under a minute to play and the Rockets holding a 3-point lead:
We hate when
fans zealots castigate the officials for missing a slight push or getting the charge/block call wrong without a replay because those judgments are a lot easier at home on your sofa with multiple angles to evaluate the right call. But the obviousness of this travel can't be overstated. Yes, Harden made the move with a fluidity that's come to define his game, but the flagrancy of the steps falls on the refs.
Rubio was whistled for the foul that gave Harden three free throws, two of which he knocked down, after the NBA's first double-step-back. The Spaniard adroitly side-stepped a possible fine while making his views clear about the play after the game.
"You watch the play? What do you think?" Rubio said when he was asked if it was a travel. "I'm not going to answer, but I think 100 percent of the people know the answer." He's probably right, because even the offending party acknowledged as much.
"What do you want me to say? Tell on myself?" Harden said.
While it's clear most fans, in between brushing lint and cheetos off of their bellies, think Harden's cheating the spirit of the game, his teammate seems to think he's at the zenith of his offensive powers.
"He can drive, he can shoot, he's got ballhandling," Chris Paul said. "It's going to be a tough night for you, whoever it is. I don't care what you're doing."