The Brooklyn Nets’ decision to trade James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers sent shockwaves throughout the NBA.
It’s rare that a star of Harden’s magnitude gets moved. Him getting traded twice in a two-year span truly speaks to something being very amiss in Brooklyn.
At this point, it’s something of an open secret that Harden and Nets star Kyrie Irving didn’t get along.
This week, the reason for their rift emerged.
“According to a source, the prospect of playing the Raptors in the postseason was one of the reasons James Harden was concerned about Irving’s vaccine status earlier in the season,” reported Ian Begley of SNY. “Harden, as you know, forced a trade from Brooklyn to the Philadelphia 76ers prior to the deadline.”
Irving’s vaccination status has been a hot conversation topic all year. Between the one condition under which he’d said he’d do it and his main motivation for not doing so – it was a nonstop headline story. Everyone weighed in on it, from Chris Paul to Karl-Anthony Towns.
In that vein, it’s unsurprising that Harden would have a strong opinion about it.
Of course, there were more reasons that ultimately led to Harden’s departure from Brooklyn – but his relationship with Irving was a big part of it as well.
In recent days, Harden has tried to rewrite history about and present his relationship with Irving in a different light.
“Honestly, me and Kyrie are really good friends,” he said.
“Whatever he was going through and still going through, that’s his personal preference. But he did impact the team because me, Kyrie, and KD on the court and winning covers up a lot of that stuff. It was unfortunate that we played 16 games out of whatever it was, but it is what it is. Here in Philly is an opportunity that I’m looking forward to.”
Irving has been less focused on PR talk when it comes to Harden, as his comments from last week would suggest.
The photos speak for themselves.https://t.co/2wPyNSpPfr
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 5, 2022
Ultimately, it will be interesting to see where things go from here. Will Harden win a championship with Philly and make Brooklyn rue the day they sided with Irving over him? Or will the Nets prevail in the end, handing Harden his most recent playoff embarrassment?
An answer should emerge in the next few weeks.