Even though Harden has found himself in the exact situation he successfully forced his way into, he is once again unhappy with the circumstances surrounding him. Why would any team want to add his toxicity to the mix?
Has He Ever Truly Been Happy?
When looking back at James Harden’s career, it seems like a fair question to ask. Obviously he has experienced moments of happiness and success, but has he ever been truly happy with his surroundings from a basketball standpoint?
The Early Years in OKC
Harden was utilized in a somewhat limited sixth-man role in the early years of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was interested in a larger role and contract, which ultimately resulted in him being traded to the Houston Rockets. So in the end he was unhappy and wanted a change.
Becoming Houston’s Hero
Throughout his years in Houston, James Harden was quickly elevated to hero status. Many “experts” around the league speculated whether or not Harden had what it took to lead a team, often pointing to the fact that he did not start during his tenure with the Thunder. Harden quickly silenced critics when he hit the ground running with the Rockets, scoring 37 points with 12 assists and 4 steals in his first game with the team. Harden then followed that debut performance with a 45 point game, and ultimately went on to average nearly 26 points per game for the season.
The city embraced their new hero, and often defended Harden against public backlash regarding his ‘boring’ style of play in which Harden leverages the rules in his favor to force his way to the free throw line as often as possible. Something that disrupts the overall flow of the game, and for many it apparently ruins the enjoyment of the viewing experience.
Despite some not necessarily loving the way in which Harden went about getting his points, it was hard to argue with the results he was getting. Let’s not forget some of the mind-blowing things he was able to accomplish while in Houston:
The Harden + Paul Combination
There is no debate when it comes to the fact that Chris Paul is an elite point guard, and one of the best to ever play the position. He proved to be a great addition to the Rockets, helping Harden take the team to heights no one thought to be realistically achievable. Houston was one win away from disrupting one of the greatest dynasties from being established.
Houston, We Have A Problem
The duo of Harden and CP3 yielded great results despite not being able to win a championship. The pairing came to an abrupt end thanks to Harden’s finger pointing, as he was blaming Chris Paul for the team’s inability to overcome an all-time Warriors team.
Due to his public unhappiness with Chris Paul, and at his request, the Rockets traded Paul for Harden’s former teammate Russell Westbrook. This is truly a shame, as they had just completed their second season of playing together and were on the cusp of achieving the impossible. And despite all that, Harden decided to pull the plug and demanded the organization make a change.
Brooklyn Becomes the Focus
It wasn’t all that long after orchestrating a trade that sent Chris Paul to Oklahoma City in favor of Russell Westbrook, Harden decided that was a mistake and set his sights on Brooklyn. In the end, Harden was able to successfully force his way to Brooklyn Nets to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, something he publicly expressed having a ton of interest in. After years of having a team cater to his every want and need, he ends up getting EXACTLY what he said he wanted and he is still not happy.
Houston Would Welcome Him Back
In overly obvious news, the Houston Rockets say they would welcome Harden back. No real surprise here since the Rockets are currently the worst team in the Western Conference, and are only three wins ahead of being the worst team in the entire league. Not sure what bringing Harden back would do beyond a potential lift in ticket sales or team interest. In the end, Harden has continued to display an incredible lack of motivation since he and Chris Paul lost Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals to the Warriors following the 2017-2018 NBA season.
Retirement Is A Possibilty
According to Harden himself, retirement is a realistic possibility in the not so distant future. Harden has become synonymous with quitting, so retiring and quitting for good seems quite fitting.
Whether he ends up being traded again, or retiring, one thing is certain. James Harden will forever refuse responsibility for his team’s failures.