James Harden: another unfair year and a growing rift

The NBA MVP in 2018 is left without a title again in the season in which he traded his beloved Houston for the Nets' big-three draft.


The Nets are out. The 2020/21 season, in which they went all out for the NBA in what was considered the team with the most chances to win the Ring, has ended abruptly. Despite the magnanimous fight against the Bucks, who led them to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals and beat them in overtime at Barclays Center, eliminated. The bet on Steve Nash is long-term, it is his first job as head coach of a franchise, but small three stars have put him to direct. The pressure was high from the first moment and the injuries open the door for everything to return to the course next season and victory can be attacked with more force.

Kevin Durant comes out of this tie even stronger, playing every minute, 48 and 53, of the fifth and seventh with 49 and 48 points in each. The other two come out more marked although they are the carriers of two injuries that have crushed this attempt by the Nets to take Larry O'Brien's first glass to their windows. Kyrie Irving, with his ankle to the virule, could not even play the last games; James Harden forced out with a hamstring injury that heals in two months and took him back in a week. But here's a difference in terms of demand: Durant triumphed for the Warriors and Irving won it for the Cavaliers, but Harden remains in contention for the first title. And he goes blind counting, without that being exclusive, with an ease to play basketball that no more than five other players have in the League.

A beaten profile

It is already 31 years and several attempts. In Brooklyn they have tried to repeat that union of the Thunder of 2012 between Durant and Harden with which only the Heat of LeBron James could. Harden saw that he could reach higher heights and asked to leave to go from being a substitute, since the usual starter was Thabo Sefolosha, to star without nuisance. And in the Houston Rockets the teammates who have put him next to him have been falling like flies: Dwight Howard, the first, and more recently Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook. To this campaign, the reborn John Wall, promised the El Dorado before taking the emergency door and leaving. Persona non grata for some of those who have seen him for a decade and for whom it is not worth considering that he is one of the most ruthless scorers, in the good sense of the word, of the last forty years.

There are more. It is perfectly understood that there is a let's call it broad portion of NBA fans who disavow James Harden. He has not made it easy. The hatred is sustained on at least three legs: that the Rockets' game changed so much with Mike D'Antoni, taking him to the triple extreme, and that he got so many points by forcing doubtful fouls; that his attitude off the court, prioritizing his fun over getting fit or maintaining the level of exposure in the basketball sphere, has had a bad impact; that he has tightened so much at the institutional level that his departure from Houston was almost a relief due to how his treatment of others had degenerated ...

The extra-sporting scandals, such as his legend in the strip clubs or the affair with the mask supposing to start this last preseason at the wrong time, have understandably penalized him. But now, with renewed air in the Nets and looking for the coveted Ring with a group to which he has had to adhere without so much air of superiority, he is not worth his fierce detractors either. He's in a hole, though waiting to collect $ 43.8 million next year, and they don't want him out.

Another troubled season

The Nets landed after exploiting their situation in Houston. In the Texas city, he even had shares of the MLS team, which shows that his commitment speech to win a championship for the Rockets was not lip service. And more coming from someone as hermetic as him. But, with a contract of two seasons and even three if he executes the player option that belongs to him, there was no more there and the end was inevitable.

What was passed through the sieve of criticism were the forms. He arrived overweight from the holidays, not very long after losing in the conference semifinals against the Lakers in the bubble playoffs, and many jokes were made with his physical form. In one of his comedic monologues, Txabi Franquesa remembers the world silver medal that was taken from gymnast Gervasio Deferr in 2002 for competing under the influence of cannabis, joking that he had more merit to play metal under those conditions, and the case of James Harden is similar and not illegal as Doncic or Jokic have also been praised at other times for leaving without being ready.

Harden assured after leaving Houston that he does not regret the end. It is what he had to do to force the transfer, he will think. The fight with the brave rookie Jae'Sean Tate in training, the lack of response to start training, having to isolate himself for going to a birthday, the lack of help from a first-time coach like Stephen Silas or the statements of the last day were some of the bearded black spots. But he left and Houston was soulless, since Exum and Kurucs did not curdle and Oladipo left to go a few weeks later to Miami. The NBA took another movie twist and Harden went to form a pair of bases with Kyrie Irving of which they make sense, although in the final stretch neither has been able to give one hundred percent.The ending

"He played with one leg," Steve Nash said after being eliminated in reference to Harden. It should be approached. The injury he has sustained in these playoffs, which has knocked him out for four games in the series against the Bucks, has been too much. The mishap of the first game, where he was damaged when accelerating in the first play of the night, must heal in a period of four to six weeks and he returned after three games away, in the fifth, after which he has played 46.3 minutes on average. Barbarian. From the franchise it was warned that the problems in his right leg, which appeared back in April, could leave him out of the most important games of the year and it was. Performance, which had reached a good point of both individual production and group connection, has been curtailed by a muscle problem. And, again, the merit: 20.2 points in this postseason with the injury and Durant and Irving at the side shadowing it is not bad at all, especially if we consider that his 47% shooting accuracy is at the level of his best performances. . But there is pity: "I personally feel frustrated. Being myself and having the durability intact for all the past years and not now frustrates me. We have done everything possible to the end, but we have to congratulate the Bucks. because they fought like hell and they had a great tie. "

The story

You want to change the story, in general, but you must start with the particular. In the Rockets, as we highlighted before, he tried it with several fellow travelers and none reached the finish line, which is none other than winning the NBA. The Warriors of Curry, Kerr and company fired them four out of five times if you count from 2015, the year Golden State conquered the world. The other, the Spurs in 2017.

But the real thorn is in 2018, where they had the most favored against the ropes, with Paul injured (another who shares jinx with Harden, as now: at the best moment with the Suns, separated by COVID) and remaining fried in a seventh game of the West finals in which the Rockets only scored 15% of their 3s and the franchise requested an investigation for fouls that, according to them, cost them 18 points. It could have been the end of the Warriors' dynasty, D'Antoni's men stayed very close, but instead the champions revalidated the crown by sweeping the Cavaliers 4-0 in the finals.

For now, Harden is one of those disowned by fate. Paradoxically, it was in 2012, with the Thunder and with the leadership in hours much lower than now, when he was closest. Those fingers are asking for an occupant.

Photos from as.com
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