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Steve Kerr on refs: Officiating “has never been more difficult”

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Golden State’s head coach feels that players are adapting to refs, and pushing the limits of what they can get away with.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Few storylines have dominated this NBA season as much as the officiating has. The refereeing has been at times inconsistent, which is partially due to a new batch of younger refs.

But it’s also due to a game that always evolves. Not only does the league evolve and modify the rules almost every year, but players adapt to what is and isn’t being called, and adjust their game to take advantage of the refs.

Steve Kerr sees both sides of it. Meeting with the media before Monday’s game against the New York Knicks, Kerr admitted to being frustrated with the way fouls are called on shooters. But the coach of the Golden State Warriors also pointed out how much players try and take advantage of refs, and demonstrated James Harden’s patented move as an example.

“20 years ago, you were allowed to literally smack the shooter on the hand, and if it was after the release it didn’t matter,” Kerr said. “You could run into the guy, you had Reggie Miller kicking people, and the refs didn’t know who was fouling whom, and nobody ever called anything. Now there’s a huge emphasis on protecting shooters, to the point where, last year in the playoffs, it felt like it was sort of almost a joke.”

Kerr added that, “The players test the boundaries every single night, and they try to fool the refs, and why not?”

It’s hard to argue with anything Kerr said. The game is called differently than it once was, which is frustrating for some players. The players test the officiating on a nightly basis, which is frustrating for the refs.

And the result is, unfortunately, a product where no one seems to know what constitutes a foul anymore.