James Harden: "With everyone in shape, no one can beat us"

In an interview for Sports Illustrated, the Nets player takes stock of his first season in the Big Apple and analyzes the next.


Brooklyn Nets bet is maximum, an all-in at present. Since James Harden landed in the Big Apple in January, winning is a must. Not getting the ring, for many, would be a failure. A requirement that is only placed on the best. Last season, however, despite failing to win the franchise's first ever championship, the Nets managed to dodge the fiercest criticism. Somehow, justification could be found. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Harden himself, the atomic Big Three who came to revolutionize the forces of the NBA, only shared nine games and 202 minutes in the regular season. In the playoffs, when it seemed that they arrived in perfect condition, the setbacks returned to make an appearance. "It was pretty good (the year), considering all the adversities we had to deal with, whether I arrived with the season started, Durant missing about three months, COVID protocols, Irving not being a part of the course either. ... And with all that said, we were one step away from the Eastern Conference finals. Now we will have a full year to regroup and take this where we want, "explains Harden in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

The campaign abroad, amid the tide of unexpected events, was especially difficult. Starting with his departure from the Rockets and ending with his injury on the first play of the first game of the series against the Milwaukee Bucks. The beginning of the end of the road for the Nets in the finals. "Houston will always hold a special place in my heart. I spent the last nine years there. I left disappointed not to bring a championship, because it is what I wear the jersey for every day," he now explains about his old team. And his city, with which he was always very involved, as he intends to continue being. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey washed away everything in its path. It left damages valued at 125 billion dollars and about 70 deaths. Harden was present and helped as one of the others. "Community work really allows me to see the impact that I can have in the city. We have been through very difficult times. With being able to go back now and be there for people and support them ... I'm going to do that while I can," he says.

His new home, however, considers that, to this day, it is the best place he can be, both on a basketball and personal level. "Really, I did not have to adapt. I continue playing as always, but now I do not have to shoot so much. It is the best style for me, to be honest," he analyzes about the first. "I want to build my business structure and make my brand more than it already is, and where else would you do that besides Brooklyn?" On the second. Last season, he posted his best rebounding average (8.5) and came close to his best assist record (he's at 11.2 and posted 10.9). With 24.6 points per game, he showed his more complete side on the court and, until the injuries appeared, he was a strong candidate for MVP. In his experience, as long as this continues to be the case, his performance beyond basketball will also go further, joining the two aforementioned fields. "As long as we win, as long as we manage our affairs on the track, our work outside will reach the same level," he says.

Heading into the next season, his aspirations are maximum. "With everyone in shape, no one can beat us. I'm going to leave it like that," he responds when asked if the next campaign, finally, will be his ring. "We are excited. We are focused. We know what we have to do. The most important thing is that we are healthy, and we will be. Honestly, we are excited to play a full season together," he adds. Brave in his words, but not too far from the truth. While the Big Three were able to compete in the finals, their performance was terrifying. In the first round, against the Celtics, they registered a game of 104 combined points and an average of 85.2. All this, with science fiction percentages. The Nets, for their part, are looking to extend their chances for glory over time. Durant has already agreed to extend his time in New York, with 198 million over the next four years, and Harden and Irving are next, according to the plans of Sean Marks, director of operations of the franchise. The NBA is on the lookout.

Photos from as.com
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