Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers was an unusual one for James Harden. Not only did the Rockets superstar foul out of the game, but the silent assassin also broke out of his shell to address his beef with NBA referee Scott Foster.
"Scott Foster, man. I never really talk about officiating or anything like that, but just rude and arrogant," Harden said after the game. "I mean, you aren't able to talk to him throughout the course of the game, and it's like, how do you build that relationship with officials? And it's not even that call. It's just who he is on that floor."
Harden's comments came after he was called for four offensive fouls during his team's loss to the Lakers, including a charge late in the fourth quarter that took him out of the game during crunch time.
"It's lingering, and it's something that has to be looked at for sure," he said. "For sure, it's personal. For sure. I don't think he should be able to even officiate our games anymore, honestly."
Harden was addressing his team's checkered past with Foster. Last season, Houston point guard Chris Paul pointed out that Foster's unwillingness to communicate with the team affects the outcome of games. Paul claimed that Foster makes himself "the man" and becomes who fans "pay to see" by doing so. Like Harden, those feelings seemed to have carried into this season as CP3 echoed Harden's sentiments following the game.
"I don't know what else to do, know what I mean?" Paul said about the rift between Houston and Foster. "I met with the league with him before and all this stuff. I don't know what else to do."
Although "blaming the ref" is a typical in sports, the Rockets may have a case against Foster. According to ESPN, Foster called 18 fouls (personal or technical) during Thursday's game. Of those, 12 were against the Rockets with seven of those 12 coming in the fourth quarter. This could speak to Houston's sloppy play down the stretch, but it's also hard to deny that the whistles coming from the official voted the NBA's worst referee in 2016 impacted the game.