Kobe Bryant Predicted James Harden, Rockets Would Fail (Video)
Kobe Bryant predicted James Harden and the Houston Rockets’ inevitable failure before anyone else.
During a 2019 interview on ESPN, Bryant observed that although the Rockets were fun to watch, their style of play was not conducive to winning a championship.
“I’m not a fan of in terms of winning championships, I don’t think that style is ever going to win championships,” he said.
“But at the same time you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games, so you have to do what you have to do to win games. And he’s doing that.”
Rachel Nichols immediately followed up.
“So are you saying you don’t think James Harden and the Rockets, as constructed, can win a title?” she asked.
“Not with this style of play, it won’t win,” Bryant answered. “With one player dominating the ball.”
Mamba said this about James Harden last year pic.twitter.com/YMcaxDhZx1
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) September 11, 2020
Despite the critique, Bryant was quick to point out that individually Harden was an amazing player.
“What he’s doing is absolutely remarkable though,” he continued.
“It’s a testament to how remarkable it is because people are now trying to minimize what it is that he’s doing. He’s doing some phenomenal stuff.”
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated Harden’s Rockets on Thursday night to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven series.
Barring a total collapse by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, or Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will likely square off in the Western Conference Finals.
Somehow everyone was pissed. https://t.co/gab6ObPSW6
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 11, 2020
Harden was a non-factor in Game 5, scoring 21 points — mostly from the free throw line — after going 2 of 11 from the field.
In the fourth quarter, he did not attempt a single field goal.
One big reason for 31-year-old’s failures was the Lakers’ defense knowing exactly how to play him. On 17 occasions when the Rockets attempted the pick-and-roll, LA trapped Harden. On those possessions, Houston averaged .714 points per possession. Usually, the team averages 1.13 points per possession. That is a big drop.
After a Game 1 in which he scored 36 points and led Houston to a surprising 112-97 upset win, Harden has been largely irrelevant in the outcome of the next three outings.
This was supposed to be the postseason where Harden would shed his Clayton Kershaw reputation and actually deliver when it mattered most. Instead, he simply cemented it once and for all.
After the game, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni admitted that his team looked lost.
“Just a lack of spirit,” he said.
“It just seems like we got down. We lost our way a little bit.”
Bucks aren’t wasting any time. https://t.co/NnKIy8IfyW
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 10, 2020
Harden, specifically, was asked after the game how exactly his team could have come out so flat, with so much on the line in Game 4.
“That’s a good question,” he replied, without further elaborating.
Russell Westbrook was similarly stumped when pressed on his team’s lackadaisical showing.
“I don’t have an explanation for you,” he replied.
“Should have been a sense of urgency on everybody’s part, but we fought [in the fourth quarter], which is good, and we know what we have to do. It’s going to take a lot of effort.
“It’s going to take everyone being uncomfortable in their role and making sure we understand we all have to sacrifice some of the things we love to do. But we have to scramble. That gives us the best chance to win games.”
A very interesting strategy. https://t.co/uBViBWUoxd
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 10, 2020
Harden, for his part, is already looking forward.
“There’s nothing we can do about it now,” he said of Game 4.
“We’ve just got to get ready for Game 5.”
Harden had a chance to rewrite history in this postseason. He had the opportunity to prove Bryant and all the other critics wrong. The Lakers are hardly a perfect team – there were definitely flaws there waiting to be exposed.
Harden just isn’t capable of that, and the Rockets aren’t the team to do it.
They are not built to win a championship.
Mamba knew, and he was right all along.