The Philadelphia 76ers flipped Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets last year for James Harden.
While hopes were high for what Harden and Joel Embiid would ultimately be able to accomplish together, the pair didn’t actually do much of anything in the playoffs. When it was all said and done, they couldn’t even reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
Understandably, a lot of questions emerged about the relationship status between Harden and Embiid given how disappointingly the latter portion of their 2021-22 campaign went. Particularly when Harden expressed fairly bluntly why they struggled as a duo.
This week, Harden addressed his status with Embiid openly and honestly.
“I talk with Joel frequently and we have meetings about how we’re going to play and what we need to do to help our team win a championship,” Harden told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “When you have two of the top players at their positions on the same team, that’s a great building block.
“We’re going to grow together and try to lead this team to the top. I believe we can do it together.”
That has to be music to the ears of 76ers fans. After many years of Embiid and Simmons openly despising one another, harmony between their team’s starters is no doubt sweet.
Of course, talk is cheap.
There was a lot of optimism surrounding Harden’s fit in Brooklyn as well, and by the end of his run there his teammates hated him with a passion.
Plus, there are already a lot of questions about Harden’s relationship with head coach Doc Rivers. Things were bumpy at times last year between the pair.
This will be an interesting season for Harden. He is clearly trying to put an effort forth to repair his image to some degree. He is trying to be a good teammate by teaching the Sixers’ young guys how to party properly. He is working out hard. He is saying all the right things about Embiid.
Now that’s how you dress to a party. https://t.co/ykEWy10vJX
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 18, 2022
On paper, Harden is doing everything you would want.
Will that ultimately translate to a 76ers championship in 2022-23, though?
Time will tell.
Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.