James Harden’s decision to force a trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets was not without controversy. Private investigators were hired, feelings were hurt, and a series of PR missteps occurred that made the situation uncomfortable for all parties involved.
All that being said, it’s hard to argue with the final result – at least from Harden and the Nets’ perspective. The latter got one of the most potent offensive threats of his generation, and the former lands in a situation where a championship feels inevitable.
This week, Harden sat down for an interview and opened up about a number of topics.
One in particular that raised a lot of eyebrows: his relationship with teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Harden was asked how he was forced to adjust his game, what with having to play with two other All-Stars.
“There really wasn’t any adjustment,” he told Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated. “I still play how I play, but now I don’t have to shoot the ball so much. It’s really the best style for me, to be honest.”
As far as Harden is concerned, he’d much rather serve as a ball-handler and offense-orchestrator than primary scorer.
“Kevin (Durant) and Kyrie (Irving) can always go get a bucket, and, with me as a playmaker, I can think about how to get shooters involved, how to get bigs touches, how to create open shots,” he continued. “My main focus is trying to get everybody involved and have each guy make an impact on the game.”
Last season, when the Harden trade went down, there was a lot of chatter about how he wouldn’t end up getting the ball enough for his liking. Turns out – that’s not a problem. The 31-year-old seems very happy with his role.
LaMelo Ball emerges as an early frontrunner for the 2021-22 NBA MVP Award. https://t.co/sSeA2JNkAf
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 18, 2021
Besides, despite being bogged down by injuries, Harden still averaged 24.6 points and 10.9 assists per game last year. Not quite a stat drought.
In fact, you could argue that most of Harden’s issues in 2021 had nothing to do with basketball. Between his injuries, which couldn’t be helped, and the controversy about whether or not he paid Saweetie $100,000 for a date, and all the hoopla about his wardrobe choices – it feels like everyone sort of acknowledges at this juncture that Harden’s game is beyond reproach.
Will Harden, Durant and Irving ultimately be able to get the greatest revenge on their haters and win a title next season? Time will tell.