In a recent game between the Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James and James Harden got into a scuffle for the ball. While falling to the ground, Harden extended his leg, supplanting his foot right in the manhood of James. This resulted in a one game suspension for Harden. I’m not going to speculate whether the kick was an intentional shot for the NBA’s leading scorer on the NBA’s best player. No one but James Harden can know that. Instead, I’d like to focus on the one-game suspension. Was it warranted? And will it harm Harden’s run at MVP?
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has quickly built a reputation as being fair, honest, and precise. He considers every element of a situation before making a decision, and this reputation has made Silver a very popular commissioner with both the players and the fans alike. But was Harden deserving of a suspension, or was this the league protecting its most valuable asset in LeBron?
I for one believed a fine would be more appropriate form of punishment. The whole game was chippy, and even involved a more serious altercation with LeBron James and Patrick Beverley. It is the referees responsibility to handle the amount of contact players receive from opponents and to direct the overall chippiness by making calls and handing out fouls. This is easier said then done, because a balance must be found, where refs allow the players to play without too much interference, but then again do not want altercations to take place during the game. I believe the refs did an appropriate job handling the kick. Harden received a flagrant foul, LeBron was given free throws, and the outcome of the game was delivered in Houston’s favor when LeBron James missed two free throws, down one, with 6 seconds left.
Silver dished out the suspension because he is fair. But what would this have to do with fairness? Dwayne Wade was assessed a one game suspension for a groin kick on then Hornets point guard, Ramon Sessions, which appeared much more flagrant. But Silver isn’t one to get into debates over which foul seemed more intentional. So Silver delivered his brand of justice and one cannot be disappointed because of his consistency.
As for Harden’s MVP campaign, it can wait a game. Unfortunately for Harden, he could have furthered his lead with a strong performance against the Atlanta Hawks, but I do not believe this is the end of the road for the leading scorer. What he should be more concerned with is how Russell Westbrook is feeling when he returns from his facial fracture surgery.