We’ve got a lot of shit to deal with in the coming days and weeks. Today, I’d like to take a break and talk sports (as I did with the Lamar Jackson post). I think James Harden is a great ballplayer. That’s without question. I think he, like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and, yes, LeBron James, changed the game.
I also think James Harden sometimes thinks his farts smell like roses.
That’s probably some outside-looking-in sort of shit. I don’t know Harden aside from what I see. I don’t claim to. However, what Harden’s done over the last few months? It stinks of self-importance and a general lack of decorum. Look, I get it. Top-tier ballers are going to be in their own heads. It’s why people love them (that and their social justice initiatives–even if we don’t agree with them). Between the constant throwing his teammates under the bus and his prima donna attitude, Harden’s act has begun to rub me the wrong way.
I couldn’t care less if he thought the Blue Lives Matter mask was cool. Though, even without internet, you’ve got to be at least somewhat aware of the whole Blue Lives Matter counter to Black Lives Matter. We’re not here to damn that. We’re not even here to talk about what he’s done in the community and what he meant to Houston during his tenure there.
We’re here to talk sports and sports only (this time).
While Harden is a great singular player, he struggles with sharing the ball at times. We’ve seen that in Houston, where he damn near tried to always carry the team on his back–even though he had a valuable supporting cast. Though he’s always a threat for a triple-double, he’s always more comfortable with the ball in his hands (for better or wose). We even saw that at times during his tenure in OKC. That said, Harden, when he doesn’t give a damn, he wears it on his face terribly. He lets it be known through lackadaisical play (such as his 2020-2021 so far). He lets it be known through his actions. And he lets it be known like he did with the whole “this team doesn’t want to win in the first place. Fuck them kids” mindset he displayed in his last few months in Houston.
Al of that came to a head over the last 24 hours with the Rockets supporting cast saying enough is enough.
So what did the Rockets do? They did what they could. They stockpiled draft picks and eventually picked up Victor Oladipo in a mega-trade involving the Pacers, Nets and Cavs. Ultimately, I think Houston wins the deal because of the draft picks.
Meanwhile, the Nets have a Big Three. But that Big Three could implode at any minute. You put Harden’s ego in there with Durant’s drive and Kyrie Irving’s demeanor? I don’t see that being all that good for anyone, long-term. Now, Harden and Durant coexisted years ago in OKC. That was years ago, when Harden was coming off the bench. Now that Harden’s tasted being the alpha dog, it seems kind of hard to believe he’s going to kowtow to Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving in any way. That’s not to say it won’t happen; we all thought that Durant wouldn’t handle being the A-1 well in Golden State and they won two championships together. Sometimes, people shift around and fit in where they need to in order to win. LeBron played second banana to AD last season, Bron hyperfans be damned. There were times that Steph Curry was the third option behind KD and Klay. Shaq and Kobe made each other better, even though they weren’t as compatible with each other. Hell, Harden isn’t as much of a ballhog as his stats suggest. His assists go crazy when they need to.
I just don’t know if I see a Big Three of Harden, Durant and Irving making as much noise as NBA Twitter thinks they can. To me, it seems like Steve Nash has a powder keg waiting to explode. Steve Nash has all the makings of a great coach. But he’s about to be tested in the worst-possible way in his first year, even though we can’t discount Mike D’Antoni as his assistant coach. That said, I’m curious to see how this Big Three turns out for everyone involved.