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One of the early stories of the 2021-22 NBA season is the fallout from changes in the way the game is officiated. Across the league, scoring is down and some of the game’s most high-profile players have free throw rates that would qualify as shockingly low. One such player is James Harden, who entered Monday night’s game averaging only 4.8 free throw attempts per game. While that free throw volume wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for most players, Harden averaged more than ten free throw attempts per game over the previous nine seasons, attracting significant attention for his ability to get to the line.

In a game against the Chicago Bulls, Harden experienced some frustration in not getting calls during the first half. With that in mind, Harden put together an extensive celebration after finally drawing a whistle late in the first half.

For the sake of accuracy, this was Harden’s second trip to the line in the game. However, the play in question came fairly quickly after a pretty obvious missed call when Harden did not make his way to the line in a situation in which he should have.

There is clearly a bit of fun to be had here, with Harden, Nets head coach Steve Nash and everyone else in on the joke to some extent. Harden’s free throw may never return to its levels from Houston and, even before this season, his free throw rate declined in Brooklyn last year. Still, there are times in which whistles should be blown and, after at least one example of that, Harden was seemingly energized by the relief that came on this particular call.


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