Reigning NBA MVP James Harden says he doesn’t like to call out referees, but this time, it’s “personal.”
The Houston Rockets superstar called out veteran referee Scott Foster after his team blew a 19-point lead in a 111-106 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night, saying Foster is “rude and arrogant” and should not be allowed to work future Rockets games, according to an ESPN report.
Fellow Rockets star Chris Paul shared Harden’s sentiment, seemingly at a loss for words after both players fouled out in their first game following the All-Star break.
Chris Paul on his relationship with referee Scott Foster: “I don’t know what else to do – I’ve met with the league with him before. I don’t know what else to do.”
James Harden: “For sure it’s personal, for sure.”
Harden says Foster shouldn’t officiate Rockets games anymore.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 22, 2019
Foster was deemed far and away the worst NBA ref in a 2016 Los Angeles Times anonymous survey “with nearly three dozen NBA players,” receiving more than two-thirds of the votes and 10 more than runner-up Lauren Holtkamp. (RELATED: Four Refs During The NFC Championship Game Between The New Orleans Saints And The Los Angeles Rams Were From California)
Foster issued 18 fouls in the game — 12 against the Rockets and six against the Lakers — seven of which were called in the fourth quarter, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Foster blew the whistle only twice on Harden, one which sent Harden to the bench for his third foul with 3:51 left in the first quarter and the other for his fifth foul on a charge with 2:47 left and the Rockets down two points.
LeBron draws a charge on James Harden in crunch time of a 6-point game to foul him out. pic.twitter.com/LrhV6Gy7P3
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 22, 2019
Pretty big calls, one might say.
Harden is leading the league in free-throw attempts for the fifth consecutive season, according to basketball-reference, but his team already has eight more losses than all of last season. He’s been forced to do it all to keep his team in playoff contention, currently sporting a record-setting 32 games with 30+ points in the process.
But in the midst of a season riddled with injuries to Paul and center Clint Capela (who returned after a 15-game absence last night), Harden is likely growing frustrated and perhaps taking out on scapegoats like Foster.
For a player criticized by fans for manipulating the refs into calling countless fouls, it’s surprising to hear Harden make these comments. But he’s not the first player to claim Foster is an issue, so maybe these comments will finally push the NBA to look into Foster’s job performance and league-wide relationships.