Reigning NBA MVP James Harden has a clear message for people complaining about the number of free throws he's been shooting this season: stop fouling.
The Houston Rockets point guard has made a skill out of drawing contact and getting to the free throw line over the years. But he's managed to take that to an even higher level this term.
Harden has averaged 14.9 free throws per game over his last 10 games and, on Monday, he attempted 27 shots from the charity stripe, seven more than the entire Celtics team, who shot 20 collectively.
Last night, James Harden attempted more free throws than six of the other TEAMS that played: Celtics (20), Spurs (18), Timberwolves (23), Pelicans (21), Hawks (19), Magic (19), Harden (27).— David MacKay (@DavidMacKayNBA) January 1, 2019
His recent 10-game stretch - in terms of free throw attempts - puts his previous highest (10.9) in the shade.
Many NBA fans have turned against Harden this season and their displeasure has been rife over social media. No one seems to be happy about the amount of time he spends at the free throw line and the Los Angeles Lakers actually guarded him with their hands at their backs in a recent game.
Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, a reporter for NBA on TNT and NBATV asked the player what he has to say to people who are unhappy about his getting to the stripe so often and his answer was quite frank.
"Stop fouling," Harden said. "It's simple."
Harden is leading the league in scoring this season with an average of 33.3 points per game and has said that he wants to be MVP again.
“Individually, I got to bring it every night and make sure the guys around me in that locker room are on the same level,” he told the Houston Chronicle this week. “It’s a great feeling. Individually, I got to make sure I’m on my A game every night, and that’s not just scoring. That’s being a leader every night. That’s making sure I’m communicating with my guys and we’re putting ourselves in positions to win games.”
I just asked James Harden what he says to people who are mad that he gets to the freethrow line so much. He said, dead serious, “Stop fouling. It’s simple”. #Rockets— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) January 2, 2019
What This Means
It's not very attractive to watch Harden get to the free throw line on nearly every drive attempt, but, to be fair, he isn't the one calling the fouls and amendments to the NBA's rules allow for more freedom of movement for ballhandlers.
Harden is taking full advantage of the rules and there's not much to be done about it, save referees being more vigilant.
The Rockets man is the reigning MVP and he will be treated like a superstar, but he's done quite a lot to prompt people to suggest that he's getting way too much preferential treatment.