Just before the 2021-22 NBA season tipped off, the league announced that it was switching things up on the officiating front. Specifically, referees would be cracking down on “overt, abrupt or abnormal non-basketball moves” by shooters attempting to draw fouls. For their part, Evan Fournier and the New York Knicks have embraced the changes.
“Yeah. F— yeah,” Fournier exclaimed on Saturday, via the New York Post.
For him, the new foul rules are correcting some problems that the league has had for some time.
An Indictment on the NBA Game?
While the NBA is far and away the best basketball league on the planet, Fournier has felt that the pro game in America has somewhat lacked for physicality.
“It was actually very frustrating for me,” he lamented. “For years — I don’t like to compare anything — but coming from Europe we have guys that aren’t as physical, aren’t as athletic, and yet the game is more physical there.”
Consequently, Fournier was forced to make major adjustments defensively. He thinks the new point of emphasis is a step in the right direction, though.
“So as a rookie, I kept fouling and fouling and fouling. And I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I’m skinny. I’m not strong. So I think the league did a great job, and we have to adapt and adjust. I think as a fan, it’s better. You don’t want to see guys just trying to trick referees all the time. … I like it, 100 percent.”
For his part, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau agrees.
“The intent is to have a rhythm,” he said. “If a player makes an aggressive move to the basket and he gets fouled, he should be given two free throws, but if you’re trying to trip up the game, in the old days, the veteran officials, they’d call the foul on the offensive player. That usually eliminated it right there.”
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Not Everyone Is a Fan of the Switch-Up
While the Knicks’ physical brand of basketball has probably been aided by the new interpretation of the rules, the same can’t be said for every team or player. There has been an outcry league-wide that some foul calls are being missed as a result of the switch-up.
“Veering back and jumping into guys — that’s different,” Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young said, via NBA.com. “There are certain things that, I agree with the rule changes, but then there’s things that are still fouls, and guys are going to get hurt. Especially a smaller guy like me who’s going up against bigger and stronger defenders, they’re using their body and they’re using their legs and their hands to stop me.”
The Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden has also taken issue with the way things are called.
“Yeah, sure [I’m the poster boy], but I’m not the type to complain about it. I ask every official, if they see a foul, just call a foul. Sometimes I feel like coming into a game, it’s already predetermined or I have a stigma getting foul calls,” Harden said, via the Post. “But I just ask for the officials to just call what they see