The Brooklyn Nets acquired James Harden in a massive, multi-team deal involving the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers. A bevy of talent and draft picks were given up, all under the assumption that a trio featuring Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would be unbeatable.
Through six games, the results have been mixed. Brooklyn is 4-2, with Harden scoring 32, 34 and 21 points in his first three outings, only to then score 19, 12 and 20 points over the next three. Similarly, his rebounding numbers have gone down from 12, 6 and 10 in the first three games, to 5, 7 and 4 over the next three.
This week, Harden opened about his more diminished role on the Nets and how he feels about it going forward.
“I was in a role for 8 years controlling the ball, dominating the ball,” he said. “Now, it’s a different experience for me, but it’s still great. It’s still basketball at the end of the day. I’m lucky to be able to do more than just one thing on the basketball court. It’s fun”
Interestingly enough, that sentiment aligns with one he has expressed before. A while back, a secret video of Stephen Curry leaked. In it, he described Harden talking similarly in the past when describing the championship-era Golden State Warriors.
Now we know what motivates Gronk to play so hard. https://t.co/xFnKnjoXQ4
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 24, 2021
“I talked to James [Harden] in the back…obviously complimented him on what he’s done. First thing he says is, it’s fun, but I want to play different. Playing by myself or whatever, heroball — he doesn’t want to play like that. He wants a system where they can actually play beautiful basketball,” Curry could be heard saying.
Throughout the last few years, Harden has racked up a ton of accolades. He won the MVP in 2018 (and probably should have won at least one more), made eight straight All-Star teams, earned six All-NBA First Team nods, and won three consecutive scoring titles. On an individual basis, he has done it all.
Obviously he realized that Brooklyn already had Durant and Irving, and he still wanted to join them knowing his numbers would likely go down. If that doesn’t affirm his desire to win above all else in people’s minds, nothing will.