James Harden is objectively one of the best shooting guards to ever play in the NBA. It was clear from his early days as a sixth man for the Oklahoma City Thunder that he had immense promise, but when he became the star of the Houston Rockets his talent became undeniable.
This past week, ESPN did a deep dive into Harden’s childhood and early career to paint a picture of how he got to this point. There were a number of intriguing and humorous anecdotes presented, but none more so than when his mom explained just how much Harden prioritized basketball over everything else as a kid.
“He got in trouble one time in junior high, he threw a basketball at a girl,” she revealed. “He wasn’t into dating, just wanted to play basketball. I think she was trying to flirt with him, so he threw the basketball at her.”
Obviously since becoming a pro, Harden has been linked to many notable women. The list includes Jessyka Janshel, Khloe Kardashian, Karrueche Tran and more – so clearly he grew out of that awkward throw-the-ball-at-girls-who-like-you phase. But the idea of him ever doing it is absolutely hilarious.
Personal stories notwithstanding, Harden was and continues to be an integral part of any potential success the Rockets will have. He has been so crucial to the franchise’s wellbeing that outgoing general manager, Daryl Morey, thanked him specifically in his good bye ad.
Championship coaches do championship things. https://t.co/Rt7179e8TK
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 22, 2020
“James Harden changed my life,” he wrote. “An entire page could be dedicated just to James. He not only transformed my life but also revolutionized the game of basketball — and continues to do so — like almost no one has before. The game is played differently because of James, and on every playground in the world, the next generation of talent is studying and imitating his game.”
Morey did not stop there, though.
“I can’t believe I won’t be able to have another strategy session with James,” Morey continued. “I loved working together on how to get his incredible Hall of Fame teammates Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook to the Rockets. I will be rooting for James to win a championship in Houston. It’s how this story should end.”
Thank You pic.twitter.com/oMlRwq2z8i
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 18, 2020
There have been some questions regarding Harden’s future in Houston. Speculation about him possibly being included in a trade with the Chicago Bulls was a popular topic of conversation a few weeks back. As of now, though, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta seems to want to run it back with Harden.
“We’re not blowing up anything,” Fertitta said this week.
Yikes. The beef is real. https://t.co/jYnL8dCPQf
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 21, 2020
“You have James Harden and Russell Westbrook and you have almost 90 percent of your salaries tied up in them and Eric Gordon,” he added. “But anytime you have players like Eric, P.J. (Tucker), James and Russell, there’s no reason to blow up your roster.
“This is still our window, the next couple years,” he continued. “James and Russell are in their early 30s. We’re not blowing up anything. We plan on contending. I always said you want to set yourself up to be one of the top four teams in your conference each year and then it takes a little luck to win. You look at every year, it always takes a little luck.
“So, we’re going to set ourselves up to make the moves, to be one of the top teams. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to win. I can promise that to my fans and compete for the NBA championship this year.”
After everything that has occurred, seeing Harden win a title in Houston would be truly sweet. Will it ultimately happen? Time will tell.