James Harden attempts 10.7 free throws per game which is a major factor in how he stays among the top scorers in the NBA every year. Game officials tend to fall for his tricks, and there was no greater example than what occured in Friday's 121-117 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls.
Harden didn't get free throws as a direct result of this botched call -- he was 11 of 14 at the stripe and had 42 points -- but it led to Michael Carter-Williams being fouled out as he tried to front Harden.
The call was awarded by Tony Brothers at 2:03 of the extra session as Harden, who is 6-5 and 220 pounds, literally hopped onto Carter-Williams' back for a piggyback ride and took him to the ground.
James Harden found a new way to draw fouls pic.twitter.com/gIWrxhVkdi— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 4, 2017
It's hardly the first time that this technique, if you call it that, was used by Harden. He did this to Jrue Holiday in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans last season.
That NBA game officials whistles this in favor of the offensive player is why John Wall had been annoyed earlier this season with the lack of respect from officials. It has led to nine technical fouls against the Wizards' point guard, but suffice to say if he took the tact the whistle is unlikely to be in his favor.
When the Wizards lost a game in Houston a few seasons ago, it was Harden who grabbed then-Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (now his Houston teammate) to draw the foul and get the ball to win the game on a final possession.
Harden is a near impossible cover as it is because of his size and strength, but when he's gets the benefit of the doubt despite officials knowing his flair for salesmanship is hard to justify.
If the history of a player is taken into account when the league office deals out fines and suspensions for bad behavior, then why not raise the bar on what's a foul against players who do this consistently?
Will some calls that they deserve not be given because of reputation? Of couse. But until they clean up their act, erring on the side of caution and fairness is justifiable.
It'll never happen. But it should. This isn't a "superstar" calls. It's just a disgrace.