[Jeff Balke] James Harden is Easily One of the NBA's Best Players. Why Isn't He Treated Like It?

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Deji McGever, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. Deji McGever

    Deji McGever Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 1999
    Messages:
    3,606
    Likes Received:
    530
    Feels strange to post a Jeff Balke article here, but you can read it at the Houston Press

    It can be hard to shake an identity, especially in the world of social media. James Harden is, by virtually every empirical measure, one of the three or four best basketball players on the planet. But, you wouldn't know it if comments about him by fans across the NBA were any indication. A recent fake rumor about a trade involving Harden and Boston was slammed by many Celtics fans who didn't think the All-Star guard was worth acquiring at any price.

    This ridiculous narrative began in 2014 with a YouTube video highlighting some of his more lethargic efforts on the defensive end of the floor (more on this in a moment). It continued when he came into training camp in 2015 seemingly out of shape after a summer of partying with his girlfriend, Khloe Kardashian, and her celebrity friends. A TMZ video of a drunk Harden outside an LA nightclub surfaced and he became the subject of memes with a walk-off eye roll during a postgame interview.

    All of this led to the belief that the Rockets guard was more interested in being a twenty-something celebrity than the was about winning basketball games. He finished the season with remarkable numbers. Even with his slow start, Harden became only the fourth player in NBA history to average 29 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for a season. The other three? Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and LeBron James.

    But the team's disappointing finish and the continued criticism of his defense and enigmatic personality led to Harden's omission from the All-NBA team, generally considered the best measure of a player's true standing among his peers.

    In some ways, Harden has been his own worst enemy. He is a rather mercurial sort who isn't terribly comfortable in one-on-one interviews and appears to be more relaxed during a game than focused — a trait often ascribed to another former Rockets guard, Tracy McGrady. And Harden, by his own admission, has been lacking on defense. The aforementioned video's carefully edited clips of Harden's foibles on that end of the floor are nothing to snicker at.

    But, regardless of the problems, he remains one of the most consistently brilliant offensive threats in the NBA. He has increased his scoring average in all but one of his seven seasons, and his rebounds and assists per game have gone up every year he's been in the league. Harden is only one season removed from being the runner-up for league MVP (an award many would argue he deserved more than Steph Curry).

    And that is all before this season.

    For those who have not been paying attention, Harden is on a torrid pace through the first 10-11 games of the season. He is in the top five in scoring and leading the league in assists. He is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and almost 39 percent from the three-point line. He has already had two triple-doubles and a stretch of four games with at least 30 points, 12 assists (three of those games, he had 15) and 6 rebounds. The last person to have a stretch like that was Michael Jordan.

    Since being handed the reigns to handle the ball by new coach Mike D'Antoni and with new shooters like Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon on the floor with him, Harden has rapidly become one of the most dangerous threats in the NBA both as a scorer and passer.

    It could be argued that he has only had one rough patch of basketball since joining the Rockets. Unfortunately, those struggles coincided with Kardashians and partying and YouTube videos and eye rolls and alleged locker room issues between he and now-former Rocket Dwight Howard. The end result is a narrative Harden and the Rockets are having a difficult time shaking.

    But, he isn't the first player to suffer from image problems that threatened to derail his career (see: The Decision: James, LeBron). It will likely take a monumental effort from the star guard to change how those around the league view him. That and winning, the cure-all for any sports-related ailment (see: Cubs, Chicago). Until then, fans should just be glad they are getting to see Harden play at a level rarely seen in basketball history. And if you aren't watching, there's plenty of room on the bandwagon.
     
    DonKnock, BMoney, DreamShook and 3 others like this.
  2. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 1999
    Messages:
    48,127
    Likes Received:
    15,203
    Man, Jeff almost made it all the way through that article without mentioning Dwight, and still only mentioned him as a toss-away in a run-on sentence.

    Well Done!
    Jeff has moved on!
     
  3. BAHAMIANFAN

    BAHAMIANFAN Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2014
    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    123
    Only way he can ditch his reputation is to win the chip.
     
  4. ISOBall

    ISOBall Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2015
    Messages:
    2,210
    Likes Received:
    805
    Because the best players care about winning
     
    kjayp likes this.
  5. DreamShook

    DreamShook Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Messages:
    26,798
    Likes Received:
    10,177
    Os Trigonum likes this.
  6. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Messages:
    11,306
    Likes Received:
    11,188
    [​IMG]

    you beat me to it
     
  7. glenadyll

    glenadyll Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2013
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    178
    As annoying as Harden media hate is, at least there is solace in the fact that it never seems to affect his play. Homeboy clearly is not as sensitive as I would be if it were me. He regularly puts his big boy pants on and takes care of business regardless of what anybody says. Much respect.
     
  8. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Messages:
    11,306
    Likes Received:
    11,188
    somebody get the memo to @larsv8
     
  9. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 1999
    Messages:
    48,127
    Likes Received:
    15,203
    This is also how he broke up with the Kardashian ... but in reverse order.

    He took care of business then put his big boy pants on and walked out.
     
  10. glenadyll

    glenadyll Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2013
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    178
    I don't blame the man for one last hurrah.
     
  11. DreamShook

    DreamShook Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Messages:
    26,798
    Likes Received:
    10,177
    I wasn't aware Boston fans wouldn't trade the 2 no-names for Harden in that fake trade rumor. That's crazy.

    I subscribed to a YouTube channel that posts NBA clips not realizing the guy refuses to post Harden solo highlights because he hates James Harden. Can't believe how many people dislike James Harden.
     
  12. kjayp

    kjayp Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2006
    Messages:
    4,113
    Likes Received:
    827
    Good article.... Pretty much dead on the money.... As much as folks on this board wanna bitch about a 'media conspiracy' I think this is a very even handed article - the good, the bad and the ugly....
     
  13. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2002
    Messages:
    43,009
    Likes Received:
    3,325
    Look at the media crawling back
     
  14. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2014
    Messages:
    11,306
    Likes Received:
    11,188
    actually I think those were his big boy socks. that's why they call them, business socks.

     
    jmwilliamson and glenadyll like this.
  15. ksny15

    ksny15 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,927
    Likes Received:
    1,079
    Now if he would buy into the system and move and commit to defense when his shots off.
     
  16. jmwilliamson

    jmwilliamson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2002
    Messages:
    8,663
    Likes Received:
    1,137
    Not bad - but he failed to address the criticism James has received for flopping. "All he does is shoot free throws!" That is why his game has been characterized as ugly by lots of folks. I think they're all crazy. I love watching James Harden play basketball.
     
    majicdonjuan likes this.
  17. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2002
    Messages:
    43,009
    Likes Received:
    3,325
    I don't know if we can expect him to move. May be a bit much
     
  18. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Messages:
    54,608
    Likes Received:
    16,031
    If you lost your legs, it'd be hard for you to move too. ;)
     
    Mr. Clutch likes this.
  19. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 1999
    Messages:
    55,732
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    Why am I not surprised that a 99er posted this article written by

    a 99er

    Clutch/Jeff 2016
    Make Clutchfans Great Again (like 99)
     
Loading...

Share This Page