Updated: 11:17 p.m.
NBA officiating: It’s the show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter!
James Harden was ejected late in the third quarter of the Sixers’ Game 3 win after committing what was ruled a Flagrant 2 foul on the Nets’ Royce O’Neale.
If you’re flabbergasted, you’re not alone. It appeared Harden extended his arm and hit O’Neale in the midsection. However, the contact did not look intentional at all. It looked like Harden was simply trying to create space. Offensive foul? Sure. A Flagrant 2? Don’t see it.
You be the judge.
This got James Harden ejected. An absolute joke. pic.twitter.com/m8T4h61eil— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 21, 2023
The thought is this could be a makeup call for officials not tossing Joel Embiid in the first quarter after his kick on Nic Claxton.
Joel Embiid kicks Nic Claxton after Claxton steps over him pic.twitter.com/9I1OTwqxgz— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) April 20, 2023
If that is the case, that’s incredibly stupid. Call the fouls as they’re meant to be called. Yes, the Sixers caught a break with Embiid getting to stay in the game, but then you punish them later by tossing Harden? Bizarre. Especially with Harden playing his best ball of the series and keeping the Sixers afloat in the third.
The pool reporter in Brooklyn asked Tony Brothers about both calls. He basically quoted the rule book and gave no specific explanation:
NBA Referee Tony Brothers comments to a pool reporter after the 76ers at Nets Game:https://t.co/fT1onlNzfq— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) April 21, 2023
Useful, Tony. Thanks.
And Harden is all of us trying to make sense of the ejection:
James Harden says the push-off that he was ejected for, he didn't think it was even an offensive foul. On calling it a Flagrant 2, he says of the call: "That's unacceptable. That can't happen."— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) April 21, 2023
Harden on his Flagrant 2: "I didn't even think it was a foul on me. Somebody draped on me, natural reaction is to use your off-arm to get him off a little bit, and that was it. There wasn't no wind-up, elbow, I didn't hit him in the private area. None of that. That can't happen."— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) April 21, 2023
Harden: "[It's] the first time I've been ejected. I'm not labeled as a dirty player...It's just a natural basketball reaction. I didn't hit him hard enough for him to fall down like that. For a Flagrant 2, it's unacceptable. Like, this is a playoff game."— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) April 21, 2023